The most important photography fair of the year, Paris Photo, took place in Paris, of course, on November 10th to 13th, in the sumptuous setting of the Grand Palais. Four days among giants of international photography and young artists, ready to show their work to the general public. Trying not to get lost among all these booths, we asked for the help of a professional, Anna Mainenti, Italian freelance photographer based in Verona. Here’s what Anna has “taken home” from Paris Photo 2016.
Stéphane Couturier (France 1957) explores through his works the concepts of transformations, demolitions and reconstructions in cities like Berlin, Paris, Seoul, Moscow, Havana. His images filter the energy and the unique vitality of turmoils in the big metropolitan areas of the world, with a strong sense of geometry and composition.
With the use of a large format camera Couturier creates extremely detailed prints that make the viewer lose himself into a deep awareness of the image: you can observe a particular reality and realize that a chaotic urban construction can be conceived in vertical and horizontal dynamic lines, in brilliant effects of light and color.
Thierry Struvay (1961) lives and works in Brussels. For over 30 years he has been collecting old photographs, from flea markets, boxes, warehouses. After four years spent in New York to look for anonymous prints he gets back to Belgium with an extensive collection of images. Struvay celebrates the final conquest of autonomy of photographic production with the exhibition of these snapshots – collected and selected for the intensity or the magic of the moment, for accidental references to some pictures of famous photographers or artwork, or personal intimacy to dramatic situations.
The snapshot (a really current topic, objectively faced by important brands such as Fuji and Leica, editor’s note) becomes the genuine channel of eternal and pure reality, once detached from an author, a technical awareness or a formal investigation.
It seems that every single moment has be photographed by countless photographers around the world, who have captured in that instinctive and innocent shot what was most precious to them.
I admit that Pieter Hugo is one of my favorite photographers. Born in Cape Town in 1976 he starts as a photojournalist, winner of the World Press Award in 2006 with the wonderful project The Hyena Men Series, a series of portraits of a Nigerian tribe who trains and tames the hyenas.
He moves away from journalism to chase his artistic vocation and focus on projects that allow him to have more freedom of interpretation: he mainly investigates issues of identity and otherness of specific social realities in different African countries.
At Paris Photo, Stevenson gallery from Johannesburg presents his latest project, 1994, an iconic year for two highly significant events: the first democratic election in South Africa after 46 years of apartheid and the genocide in Rwanda which counts nearly one million deaths. Pieter Hugo explores the stories of these two African countries through a series of portraits of children born after 1994 and grown up in this post revolutionary Africa.
Jitka Hanzlová was born in Czech Republic in 1958. Since the beginning her photography explores the deep connection between the idea of belonging and the identity that comes from her situation of political exile to escape from the Communist regime. She settled in Essen (Germany) from 1982 to 1990, when finally after the fall of the Berlin wall can go back in her country.
Hanzlová uses photography as a real tool to communicate and explore, a free language that doesn’t need to be interpreted, but can be used as a method of therapy, of liberation, of personal and intimate research.
Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick (1964) are collaborating together since 1988 as Kahn/Selenick, both in the artistic-pictorial art field and in photography, creating with their images fantastic stories that involve photography, a search for an illusory storytelling and sculpture.
The manipulation of colors in their images, the creation of the customs that mark out the characters of their visual stories, and the research -often the actual construction- of the props, alter the perception of time and space, giving their photograph a dreamlike sense. Reality and imagination are mixed up in a wonderful blend of myth, fantasy, monsters and softened landscapes. A daydream that enchants you for a moment, in the chaotic space of the Paris Photo.