Paris Photo: The Yellow Light of Paris

Highlights from Paris Photo11.15.12


Written and Photographed by Inigo de Amescua

Paris Photo: Ralph Gibson Paris Photo: William Klein Paris Photo: Saul Leitner Paris Photo: Sarah Moon Paris Photo: Robert Frank Paris Photo: Rinko Kawauchi Utatane Paris Photo: Chuck Close Paris Photo: Carla de Van Puttelaar

Paris Photo: Candida Hofer Paris Photo: Araki Paris Photo: Lartigue Paris Photo: Rudolf Bonvie Paris Photo: Vilem Reichmann Paris Photo: Harry Callahan Paris Photo: Inigo de Amescua Paris Photo: Richard Dumas Paris Photo: August Sander

Half asleep, I am walking down the Rue des Bastignoles, searching for coffee on an otherwise typical grey Parisian day. At once, I stumble upon a wonderful door to paradise. Golden letters on black shiny ground which read: Photographie.

In this way, Paris welcomes me to Paris Photo.

Created in 1996, Paris Photo is the first fair devoted to historical and contemporary photography. It is held once each year in both Paris and Los Angeles. This year, the fair is composed of nearly 130 galleries and 23 publishers. The city hosted more than 54,000 visitors in four days, and, of course: David Lynch.

Paris Photo is international and open, yet remains deeply rooted in the city. Museums and institutions from all over the world are present: FOAM, Tate Modern, ICP and MoMA. The New York based Aperture Foundation is also an associated partner with Paris Photo this year. But the fair remains distinctly Parisian.

I walk wet sand paths of an ancient cemetary looking for the headstones of Julio Cortázar, Samuel Becket and Baudelaire under the yellow light of the leaves.  The same light, in fact, which can be seen in photos of Gustave Le Gray and his acolytes in a show on the Petit Palais.

This color is all around. It is in Voici Paris: Modernités Photographiques 1920-1950 at the Pompidou. It is present in the exhibition dedicated to Mexican surrealist and street photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo.

Paris, the city where the surrealism was born, feels like a dream. And, oh, that white-lighted Wonder Wheel at the Tuileries!

Photography is not just for the walls, it is also for the tables, the shelves, and the bags. The photo book is in its fullest form here. Roland Angst of Berlin's Only Photography is present, representing a company which has published work by fantastic books of art by Bruce Wrighton, Ray K. Metzker, and Yutaka Takanashi. They prove how a publishing house can help enhance and spread the work of outstanding photographers.

Fashion also has space here.  Karl Lagerfeld has his own exhibition: La Petite Veste Noire (The Little Black Jacket) at the Grand Palais. Here, Chanel’s creative boss, with the help of former Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld, pays tribute to the iconic Chanel jacket, reinterpreting it through personalities like Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Wang, and Yoko Ono.

Past, present and dreams: a motto that fits perfectly into this festival's Private Collection. This year, the collection is curated by The Archive of Modern Conflict from London, an institution that stores, quote: “lost shadows that lens-based technologies have scattered to the winds.”

Meanwhile, the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award goes to Anders Petersen for City Diary Volume 1-3 and David Galjaard for Concresco.

One photo which struck me more than all others was a tiny, round cyanotype. It depicted a blurry woman on a narrow lonely road in a forest circa 1900. To me, it had one of the magic properties that all the good photos should have: making you dream.

A strange quietness, a particular captivating stillness, falls over the streets. Man Ray, Daido Moriyama, Antoine D’Agata, Christopher Bucklow, Michael Schnabel, Yunuf Sevincli. Past and present unite to capture the dusty nature of dreams, or, perhaps, to use them to create something else.

Paris Photo 2012

RH Gallery presents