On Saturday, March 31, 2012 The AIPAD Photography Show featured a series of special panel discussions sponsored by Ryerson Image Centre, a research center and an exhibition space incorporated into Ryerson University, Canada. I attended two of them.
The first panel: Curator’s Choice: Emerging Artists in Photography was moderated by Lindsay Pollock, editor in chief of Art in America and featured Sarah Meister, curator of Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, Christopher Phillips, curator of the International Center for Photography, and Joshua Chuang, assistant curator of photography at the Yale University Art Gallery. The discussion began with a question: Which artists or work can be considered ‘new/emerging’? Sarah Meister pointed that the age of an artist doesn’t matter; it is not an artist who is new, but his/her work has to be new. Christopher Phillips said he wouldn’t differentiate artists in this way. The curators showed work of the artists they exhibited that they considered ‘new’:
Joshua Chuang – Anthony Hernandez;
Sarah Meister – Michele Abeles, Shanghai duo Birdhead (Song Tao and Ji Weiyu), Moyra Davey, Elad Lassry, Hank Willis Thomas;
Some of Christopher Phillips – Anna Shteynshleyger, Michelle Charles, Series of books My Private Broadway published by Beijing-based photographer Lin Zhipeng.
Another question was: How does contemporary photography get into collections? Sarah Meister spoke about the Fund for the Twenty-First Century at MoMA, that was created to purchase work produced during last five years by artists who were not presented in the MoMA collection. In this case, curators often look for newer practices and try to present the work the museum audience is not familiar with. Christopher Phillips looks at an artist’s career to find a perspective artist who consistently produces bodies of work. Joshua Chuang considers work that fits artwork from the gallery collection and that is not limited to the photographic medium.
The participants also discussed the problem of digital photography. Everybody has a camera now and can produce images, there is an overwhelming amount of images on the internet. The curators talked about a trend of incorporating internet images into artists’ work (ex. Doug Rickard) and how a museum can deal with such kind of practices. With the digitalizing of old photographs, photography past is growing as well. We are overwhelmed with pictures in this image saturated culture.
Speaking about new work, many of curators pointed that new artists come from all over the world – China, South Korea, Brazil. In order to understand their work, we have to learn a background of the artists and a context that the work was made in.
The second panel: A Celebration of Francesca Woodman commemorated the traveling retrospective of Francesca Woodman (organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum through June 13, 2012 ). The panel was moderated by Robert Klein of the Robert Klein Gallery in Boston and included Julia Bryan-Wilson, associate professor of art history at the University of California, Berkeley, Sloan Keck, a designer and friend of Francesca Woodman, and Elisabeth Subrin, a video artist. Julia Bryan-Wilson is an author of the essay featured in the catalog of Francesca Woodman’s show in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The essay surveys the critical and art historical literature that has proliferated around Woodman’s art. Elisabeth Subrin presented (or at least tried) a 36-minute video The Fancy (2000), an ‘experimental biography’ of Francesca Woodman exploring the interpretation of Woodman’s work and life based on published records only (Read, Watch the trailer). The discussion bounced from one subject to another, including questions: How interpretation of curators differ from the artist intent? What artists did influence Francesca? Sloan Keck, who was a close friend of Francesca since freshman year at RISD contributed some stories behind the photographs, talked on Francesca’s personality and read some experts from Woodman’s diaries.
On the break between panels, I went to The AIPAD Photography Show quite spontaneously. (I intended to attend the two panel discussions only but thanks to a photography collector who gave me a spare pass I got to see the show itself.) At AIPAD for the first time, I could hardly believe that I was seeing this enormous amount of photography history mixed with contemporary work in one location. The show was extremely overwhelming and I won’t even try to write about it at this time. Just some remarks about photobooks. There were two photobook dealer booths at the show:
Harper’s Books, founded in 1997, is a bookshop and gallery located in East Hampton, New York. It specializes in rare photography, art, and literary books. Among one-of-a-kind items Harper’s Books had on display Alec Soth’s notebook for his project The Most Beautiful Woman in Georgia and the mock-up of Ken Schles’ Invisible City. Check out the incredible list of items Harper’s Books presented at the AIPAD show. Thanks to Helka Aleksdóttir for sharing the opportunity to see those books. Look for the reviews at her wonderful blog.
Another photobook dealer was Jeff Hirsch Books from Evanston, IL., specializing in used and rare photography monographs and modern first editions.
One of the wonderful items I saw at the show is a book of famous George Tice’s photographs titled American Beauty presented by Nailya Alexander Gallery. It is a book of 24 Platinum/Palladium 8″x10″ prints on Japanese gambi paper. The book is slipcased and measures 16 x 14 inches. The preorder price is $18.000, the starting market price will be $20.000.
The AIPAD Photography Show creates a wonderful environment to look at photography treasures, to learn about the history of the medium and to experience museum-quality prints.