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Paris Photo 2023 from an ‘Italian’ perspective by Paola Sammartano


While waiting for the return of Paris Photo in 2024 to the Grand Palais, in November 2023, the Grand Palais Ephémère is the place to discover the new, the established, the history and the trends in photography and visual culture. A stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, the 26th edition of this event will bring together 191 galleries and publishers, offering the opportunity to discover a world of images or rather images from all over the world.

We have tried to follow a route linked by the fil rouge of Italianness, through the Italian galleries present and discovering some gems. Some galleries have been present for several editions, others are newcomers. According to all the gallerists we spoke to, being here is a sign of being able to make a quality contribution and to bring interesting images to the public of collectors and enthusiasts.

Galleria Alberto Damian from Treviso, for example, has chosen to present an itinerary focusing on Italian photography, reportage with authors such as Lori Sammartino, Giovanna Borgese and Paola Agosti, with vintage and, in some cases, literally unique prints (due to the loss of negatives). And with a selection based on photographs taken by the authors in Italy, on subjects that are still topical, such as work or women’s emancipation.

Meri Marini, of Die Mauer (Prato), which has now been present for five editions now, sees Paris Photo “as a point of arrival and of new beginnings. The gallery, she explains, does not work exclusively with photography but includes it, because the photographer uses the camera to make art, like Gianfranco Chiavacci, whose research images are situated in his parenthesis (lasting a quarter of a century) of photography placed at the centre of a career as a painter”.

Studio G7 in Bologna has also decided to present only Italian artists and renounce ‘easier’ names for the international public are not afraid of an unfamiliar name and want to delve deeper. Finally, director Giulia Biafore says, “Pharis Photo is an international and receptive environment ideal for presenting new research. The project presented includes three artists from Emilia Romagna and the theme of landscape. They range from Franco Guerzoni with photographs from the 1970s, Paola De Pietri and Daniela Comani”.

According to Irene Crocco of Viasaterna, Milan (in its first year at Paris Photo), “it is the international character and a very photography-conscious public that characterise the Parisian event. The paradox is that in Italy we have great masters, but the system revolving around photography has not yet fully developed”, she adds. A curiosity: contrary to what usually happens, two different galleries, one in Milan (Viasaterna) and the other one in London (Large Glass), have decided to present a single artist, as they have been working with Guido Guidi for several years.

It is also the first time for Milan’s M77 gallery, which deals with Italian photography from the post-war period to the present day and is exhibiting works by Nino Migliori in Paris. As Chiara Principe, the gallery’s managing director, explains, “We believe that as a means of communication, photography is still a very contemporary medium”.

Red Lab, also in Milan, is a new entry this year. It is located in the Curiosa section which, as Lucia Pezzulla explains, “is in line with our mission, because we try to ‘do’ photography and contemporary art, working on the side of innovation and multimedia”.

Ruggero Montrasio, who emphasises the international openness of Paris Photo, thanks to the participation of collectors, operators and enthusiasts from all over the world, explains his long-standing frequentation of the Parisian environment, which for Galleria Montrasio (Monza/Milan) dates back to 2007 with an exhibition on Luigi Ghirri. This year’s choice is to present well-known authors such as Ghirri, in fact, alongside other emerging ones.

The Ncontemporary Gallery (Milan), on the other hand, is presenting photographic works expressing the research of Walter Niedermayr, Erin O’Keefe and Cristian Chironi, while the PACI Gallery (Brescia/Porto Cervo) stresses the importance of this appointment in Paris which goes beyond the market aspect, since, as Giampaolo Paci explains, “it is also an interesting moment of encounter between curators and museum directors”.

Michele Bella, director of the Valeria Bella Gallery (Milan), emphasises how this event offers a privileged vantage point of view on photography tout-court. Once again, the choice was a path between the works of well-known Italian authors, such as Ghirri or Mulas, and those of very interesting authors but perhaps less well-known to the general public.

Pierre André Podbielski of the Milan gallery of the same name, which on this occasion is exhibiting works by Francesco Jodice, Gabriele Basilico and Silvia Camporesi, says that “for those who love photography, Paris Photo is capable of bringing the historical aspect of photography into dialogue with contemporary photography in a different way every year”. In short, a kind of dynamic summa of the history of photography.

Last but not least, in addition to the galleries, there is the presence of two specialised Italian publishers, L’Artiere Edizioni and Damiani.

Paola Sammartano


Paris Photo 2023
Grand Palais Éphémère
Place Joffre, 75007 Paris
Avenue Charles Risler, 75007 Paris

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