Paris Photo, in its 19th year and presented at the atmospheric and prestigious Grand Palais, was as we know cut short by the most horrific attacks that took place in November 2015 in Paris. As with many of the guests and visitors I attended the fair for one day and spent the remaining two days deeply moved by the solidarity and bravery of the French people.
Paris Photo is the most significant gathering of key players, photographers, curators, gallerists and collectors. Over 147 galleries from 34 countries exhibited at the fair showing historical and contemporary photography. To spend at the Gagosian, Little Big Man, Flowers, East Wing and Ben Brown galleries is always a treat as was seeing the London galleries James Hyman, featuring works by John Blakemore, Paul Hill, Martin Parr, Ken Grant and other British notaries; and Richard Saltoun featuring Jo Spence and Helen Chadwick. Another strong area was the photo books space with publishers and dealers displaying and selling rare and iconic books and launching new publications.
Paris Photo also provided the opportunity to see magnificent works by the masters including Stephen Shore and Bernd and Hilla Becher. To see these photographs in the melting pot and hustle and bustle of Paris Photo and alongside the most contemporary works adds another important dynamic.
Two galleries that impressed with their curated spaces of contemporary photography were Galerie Christophe Gaillard and Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve. Both relatively young Paris based galleries they made statements at the fair with the works they chose to show and the presentation of their stands. The former shows critically engaged fine art, has a strong reputation for its women artists and supports emerging practitioners. I particularly liked the work and presentation of Rachel De Joode’s photo sculptures. These are works that question form and content in the making of the image.
Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve showed intriguing and exciting series including by Delphine Balley from ‘L Album de Famille’. Her own family is the subject of this series of photographs, a continuation of a family saga. It shows her parents, her friends and relations and her own self in pictures recording the blue-ribbon events of a family circle: baptisms, weddings, get-together, funerals. The scenes are meticulously organised, taking place in confined settings where everything is symbolic, suggesting a world of obscure events known only to the protagonists.