Sunday, 3 January 2016

Post Paris Photo

Perhaps the best way to disseminate my Paris Photo experience is through the photos I took whilst at the fair and elsewhere. After the visits were cut short due to the tragic circumstances that unfolded that fateful Friday night I am looking back at the things that caught my eye. This is a very informal roundup, but worth a peek!

Photo from from the series 
Bird Bald Book Bubble Bucket Brick Potato by Marton Perlaki

Foam Talent: I loved this work by Marton Perlaki - the birds of course appeal to me. 

©Mariam Medeva from the series:
When you are dead the pose you take doesn't matter anymore

Although quite macabre Medeva's works were a reminder of Araki's bound women exhibiting beauty despite their objectification.

My fabulous assistant Sarah Reuter

This display reminded me of Yvonne De Rosa's installation
 at the V&A Museum of Childhood this year

It was a great way to start the week, before attending the preview the following day.

Catching up with friends too

©Sophie Calle from the series The Hotel Room 1981
Room 30
It was great to this work again, albeit somewhat tucked away upstairs at the fair. So much today is reminiscent of this series by Calle. 

Just to illustrate my amusement for the award for the worst technical information ever!

And the work ©Cy Twombly

A pattern began to emerge with prints on things other than traditional papers, in this case tapestries.

A new name here for me: Stephan Schenk
The concept of close up shots of the ground at WWI battle sites reminded me of some works I saw a couple of years ago - but the execution alters it dramatically. 

©Stephan Schenk

 With the emphasis of historical tapestries in mind - using a black and white image did give the work some gravitas. 

 ©Stephan Schenk
Detail of work above

Here are a selection of works I liked at the fair. 

©Masao Yamamoto

©Masao Yamamoto

©Albert Renger-Patzsch
Here are a few personal highlights from preview of the Shalom Shpilman Collection at Christies - see the details here & the results here. This is a very angular selection, but marvellous I must say.

©Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze)
Komposition, Vers 1935

This was stunning & the price it reached was not a surprise.

©Barbara Kasten
Construct VI-B, 1981

This Barbara Kasten is a beauty also for shallower pockets but well worth the price it reached.

As I was saying, more images made into 'things' at the fair.... 

 Fabulous anonymous works, selling fast not surprisingly...

 ©Mario Finazzi (Italian, 1905-2002)
Hot Line, 1945
Solarized Vintage Gelatin Silver Print

Another angular wonder this time from Finazzi, I can see another collection forming already...

©Kurt Schwitters
Normalbühue Merz, c. 1925

A miniature wonder by Schwitters, shows us size isn't everything.

Frederick Kiesler
Interior of Marcel Duchamp's New York Studio, 1945
Vintage Gelatin Silver Prints

The befitting angled connection between these two photographs illustrate how Frederick Kiesler's worked, in this case when photographing Marcel Duchamp's studio -  especially when framed to show them at their best. 

Notably printed by Berenice Abbott this is a beautifully rendered depiction of the creative chaos often found in the artists studio  - the angles of the paper captured by the camera mirrored by the execution of the joined photographs. Tempered by the geometry of angles and multiplicity of of shapes within the composition - this trio of artistic connections satisfies on many levels. Seeds of his later work Endless House (1947-60) are evident here as reocuuring themes of architecture as a living organism made up of dead objects, somehow brought to life in this case by the camera. 

©Edward Steichen
Vogue Fashion: Evening Gowns and Wrap (30,000€)

In these works the carefully chosen frames fit the era - we forget how well this works in an age of white lines. Art Deco angles, geometry and hints of luxurious texture suggestive of elegant grandeur, subtly border these beauties. Placed next to each other the price difference may stand out yet the images compliment one another well. The closeness of the female subjects also have a hint of coy closeness that I find very charming.

©George Hoyningen-Huene (Russian, 1900 - 1968)
Fashion by Sada Sacks, 1939

 And now for something completely different!

In what have become some quickly snapped accidental selfies I couldn't resist recording David LaChapelle's carefully titled Aristocracy series. Floating model planes in dyed water had a high price tag, but I did love them. They are on the one hand quite vulgar with hints of spending many may deem offensive: the world of private jets & luxury travel etc...

©David LaChapelle

Then there is the epic illusion he has created here through a simple devise - but inarguably effective to depict an impossible scenario with planes far too close together in multicoloured smoke/clouds (take your pick)...

©David LaChapelle

Are they catastrophic or celebratory? 

©David LaChapelle

Or are they just romantic, pretty, cheesy, bubblegum, pop art, a gimmick to attract the rich? When I spoke to fellow collectors the response to the aesthetic, price, subject were evenly positive & negative. LaChappelle has never been known for his quiet reserve, so why should he change now? I think these have all his usual drama, playful sense of colour & unashamed humour. The devisive nature of these meant my interest remained albeit cautious & time will tell as it alway does...

Masao Yamamoto
Edition of 20

Seeing this image in two different locations at two prices meant for closer inspections as to their condition (one was much better than the other) & pricing (this differed too) - but ultimately a stunning example of Yamamoto's enduring appeal. 

©Ulla Jokisalo
From the series Collection of Headless Women

No surprise here - but just look at the use of a stunning bird collaged using pins - fashion collides with the hand of the artist. Popular of course & again a physicality to the work that I saw as one of 2015's Paris Photo themes.  

©Ulla Jokisalo
From the series Collection of Headless Women
(side view to capture pins)

©Ulla Jokisalo
From the series Collection of Headless Women

Just two pictures to end, including my favourite stand - great reference point to get your bearings & great works on display to boot.

So I bid Paris farewell for now...

©Laura Noble - My last night in Paris 2015

Friday, 20 November 2015

Not the blog I was expecting to post this week.

Following the terrible events in Paris on Friday, my annual report from Paris Photo takes a very different tone than expected.

Like many of my photographic colleagues who were gathered in Paris last week, I was excited to spend the week immersed in a celebration of creativity and artistic diversity. At a later date, I shall post another sadly truncated blog about the work I saw.

Following the preview day on Wednesday, two full days at the fair, the Prix Pictet evening on Thursday & back to the fair for meetings on Friday afternoon, my fabulous assistant Sarah and I headed back to our apartment to prepare for a party I was providing the music for. We had a bottle of champagne each. Many good friends would be there. It looked to be a great night ahead....

Just after 10pm, the news began to trickle in. Everyone started looking at their phones and sharing what information they could. I grabbed my mobile just in time to catch it ringing - it was my mother was calling from Australia in a panic. My brother & several others had texted me. I assured my mum that I was safe and that we were not going anywhere. The relief in her voice made the gravity of the ongoing events concrete. Each person was in their own world wondering what was going on & thinking of their loved ones. I must say a huge thank you to everyone who sent me a message, called or posted on Facebook, it was much appreciated & very comforting.

We were safe on the 4th floor of an apartment building and glad to be so. As the number of dead increased throughout the night & more reports came in, the scale of the attack was not revealed until the next day. We were too close to fully comprehend what was happening. Many of us decided to stay put & not risk going out onto the streets.

(screen grab from phone)

At a minute past midnight, Facebook texted many of us. This quite unexpected amazing use of technology was much appreciated to make sure that we were safe. This was welcomed as much by my friends & family as it was by myself.

Sitting on the rooftop terrace we could hear the sirens & only pray for those exposed to the barbaric things happening in Paris below. Makeshift sleeping arrangements were made by our gracious hosts & some people left around 4.30am - with strict instructions to text me when they arrived at their hotel.

The next morning we had to leave the safety of our defiant party and face reality.

As we walked back to our apartment the streets of Paris were all but deserted. Very few pedestrians passed by. 

The stillness was eerie. In the absence of traffic, the city felt bereft of life. The sound of the city was stripped to a forlorn chorus of police & ambulance sirens. 

Once back at our apartment,  we went online to see the full details of the attacks via the BBC & Le Monde. It was shocking and surreal. Flags had been removed from the bank opposite as a mark of respect. 

By Sunday there were two armed security officers posted outside and carrying machine guns. They looked so young it was unnerving.

Like many others in the city, we spent the evening inside. 

By Sunday, we were keen to get some fresh air. The Metro was closed so we walked to the Place de la Republique to pay our respects. 

There were many tributes along the way to those whom had lost their lives & to the city.

Grafitti had appeared overnight. 

It was beautiful and touching to see.

A cross was sprayed over Marianne's lips. Fresh tributes to the victims of the attacks surrounded its base, joining those of the Charlie Hebdo attack from January. A sad reminder of how recent the city suffered at the hands of terrorists.

The sun was shining.  Camera crews were everywhere. 

We walked further to Sacré-Cœur to look out over the city before heading back. 

We stopped for a drink in Montmartre and watched the crowds of people inspect paintings on easels & those who made them trying to sell their wares. 

The events of the night before were momentarily forgotten until another group of soldiers passed by. The mood changed in an instant. A little boy tried to say hello to one of them, it was all very strange.

Heading back via the Louvre, we watched the sun go down over Paris for the last time on our trip. We were glad to have walked its streets before leaving the next day. Cafe owners had been happy to serve us, defiant in carrying on as usual. As night fell the streets returned to silence. The darkness brought with it a guarded expectancy which sent everyone inside. Watching from our apartment the street was again as deserted as the day before.

By morning, the busy energy of the working week was a welcome sight. Cars, bikes, buses, people all going about their business. There was time for one last coffee near Gare Du Nord before boarding the Eurostar. At midday, a one minute silence was announced. We sat quietly in our own thoughts, sad in the knowledge of recent events, emotions close to the surface.

Many years ago, I fell out of love with Paris when a series of mishaps ruined a visit there. Since then, I have resumed my affair year after year with one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

This time I missed many of the exhibits I had planned to see. Instead, I found myself viewing humanity of a different kind. In my case I was lucky to be surrounded by warm & friendly souls, looking out for each other & resistant in their free spirited nature toward those determined to spread their cruelty and disrespect for life.  I was privileged to see the best of the city. A city facing adversity where people were sheltering strangers in their homes.

Upon arrival at Kings Cross International reporters were poised to interview people coming through. Sarah was stopped & asked if she was someone else by a journalist. We moved on quickly. Then the monstrous Disney tree came into sight, piled high with soft toys, reminding us of the shallow nature of shameless Christmas promotions.

It was a far cry from the numerous sites around the world displaying the Tricolore.

I do hope that Paris never has to experience anything like this again. I hope the same for Gaza, for Syria, for everywhere that people have a home. The future is uncertain but the ability to show love is not. The ability to extend compassion, to offer shelter and freedom and fraternity, especially in the face of adversity and violence, is something that terrorism can never by its very nature defeat.