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Opening of Photo L.A.: Why You Don’t Want to Miss It


What I love about shows like Photo L.A. is that they function as anti-museums, places where hi-art and street art vie for your attention without the intervention of a curated point of view. Of course there are many curators involved but each is working independently. The results are a random but often-beautiful set of visual interactions, all mediated by commerce and desire. I haven’t seen this year’s show yet, I’m writing well before it opens, but I’m certain that with so much on display there will be plenty to delight. Here are some of the things you can expect to see if you get down to The Reef this weekend.

Let’s start with galleries and the photographers they represent. This year’s show promises almost forty galleries. They will be showing work from classic photographers to the most contemporary of the contemporary. As always there is the work of up and coming artists, mid-career artists and established masters. The hallways and booths are always filled with my favorite mix; great images and the people who come out to see them.

Then there are the installations, five of them this year. For a start, how about Weston Naef’s curation of Handmade! Showing recent work by Luther Gerlach, Jacqueline Woods and the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio, it explores the return to photochemical methods by a new generation of artists.

If not that then how about All Kill No Fill – A comprehensive cross section of skate boarding photography and culture, curated by Boyz Beiber & Bonny Taylor. All Kill features work by twenty-five leading photographers documenting the art, fashion and sensibility of skateboarders around the world.

Or check out Chateau Antonym curated by Carter Mull. Chateaus Antonym is a small exhibition drawing from exhibitors at Photo L.A. and Mull’s own community in the system of art. The exhibition proposes an intersection of two different spheres of distribution, unified by the image of the theatrical, produced either for utility or within a focused discursive framework.

Point of View: Selected images from Los Angeles Collections Last year’s selections were great. They presented a broad diversity of desire and showed us work from collections we rarely get a chance to see. This year again, some major collectors have been invited to bring their favorite works. It’s a chance to see who they like and why. Participating collectors include: Alessandro Uzielli, Betty West, Carol Vernon & Robert Turbin, Colin Dusenbury, Dan and Mary Solomon, Danny First, Gloria Katz Huyck, Willard Huyck, Graham Howe, Jed Root, Kai Loebach, Leslie Rubinoff, Maureen O’Sullivan, Michael Hawley, Roger & Barbara Hill, Stephen Reinstein, Wendy West and Wendy Posner.

Penelope Umbrico, In and Out of Order: TV’s from Craigslist and Bad Display Since 2006 Umbrico has investigated the space of the screen and its technologies. She looks at common uses of photography and the web, where the more invisible these technologies are, the less considered the resulting images are. She considers the web to be an immense, unedited, un-curated archive of accumulated visual material from which she can draw.

If the installations pique your curiosity you can learn more about the artists and their intentions by attending panels and discussions. There are over twenty this year on topics from Matthias Clamer: “6 Image Series and How I Crafted Them” to The Female Gaze: A Conversation Exploring Women’s Identity in Contemporary Photography.

For a deeper insight into the way pros look at pictures how about exploring the room with an experienced curator? You can sign up for docent tours led by Weston Naef, Curator Emeritus at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Department of Photography, Joanna Szupinska-Myers Curator of Exhibitions at the California Museum of Photography and Ryan Linkoff, associate curator at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

For traditionalists Photo L.A. isn’t all new work. Scattered throughout the show you will find timeless images by some of the world’s best photographers. This year the prints of forty-one photographers, greats like Alfred Eisenstatedt, Annie Leibovitz, Diane Arbus, Gabriel Figueroa, Josef Sudek, Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith and Wynn Bullock will be on display. Because the pictures are scattered throughout the booths think of it as a treasure hunt and see how many old friends you find as you wander the aisles.

And finally, be sure to see the winners of the FOCUS photo L.A. competition. Twenty photographers who you will be hearing more about in years to come. Photo L.A. is a big and exciting show, a jump-start to get the photographic year going. You can run through it in a few hours if you want but if you love photography plan to come early and stay late.

Andy Romanoff

Andy Romanoff is a photographer and writer specializing in photography based in Los Angeles, USA.

Photo L.A.
January 12 to January 15, 2017
7354 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Reef

1933 S Broadway

Los Angeles, CA 90007


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