Having spent hours in the giant hall, which is home to New York’s Photography Show this weekend, you are left with a strange impression, between enthusiasm and frustration. With three exhibitions and over 100 art dealers and publishers, it’s hard to escape the feeling there is a lot you must have missed. You arrive full of energy, refreshed, and ready, and you leave exhausted and bleary-eyed, but satiated. It is impossible to take in such abundance, and, as if through the persistence of vision, only a handful of pictures stick in your mind. I would therefore like to revisit selected images viewed and remembered during different visits, and different moods, and I apologise in advance for the arbitrary selection and succinct presentation.
For a touch of history, The Photography Show invited Lucien Samaha, a former Kodak employee, who took the first digital photos in the early 1990s. I visited Mr. Samaha’s little makeshift photo studio, and Steve Kasher was there to show a selection of Samaha’s images. Seen in 2017, these grainy pictures of rather dubious quality are not devoid of charm and have an undeniable appeal.
The Parisian Baudoin Lebon Gallery displayed several photographs by Patrick Bailly-Maître-Grand, including some from his series Les Pommes de Newton (Newton’s Apples) (2004). Bailly-Maître-Grand’s photography is invariably erudite, but more than anything, it is a battleground where technical obstacles are being overcome. While the title explicitly evokes the British scientist and philosopher, the image of a levitating glass is also a beautiful homage to Josef Sudek. There was also Constantin Brancusi’s View of the Studio (1925) on display at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, representing a group of sculptures and pedestals, which captured this viewer’s attention.
Lastly, contemporary photography received good coverage. The Galerie Particulière spotlighted a selection of Lise Sarfati’s large-format photographs. I appreciated the density and the exactitude of the images as much as the minimalist display. The Weinstein Gallery of Minneapolis showcased two beautiful images by Alec Soth, excerpted from his recent series Park Hyatt, Tokyo (2015), a sort of journal of the artist’s stay at the hotel featured in the movie Lost in Translation. One of the images shows a curtain parted by two motion-blurred arms, and a night view of the city seen through the window, creating an odd impression of voyeurism. Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery showed a few mind-bending images by Sarah Anne Johnson, combining chromatic aberrations and representations of marginal existence. Finally, the Yancey Richardson Gallery assembled a series of smaller prints by Paul Mpagi Sepuya who stands out, in particular, for the erotic tension he creates, his work of deconstruction, and his relationship to the studio and the space of creation.
Hugo Fortin is a New York based writer specializing in photography.