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The Questionnaire : Lydia Melamed Johnson by Carole Schmitz


Lydia Melamed Johnson: Passionate.

Lydia Melamed Johnson is a woman who radiates optimism. Executive Director of the Photography Show presented by AIPAD, she is a true photography enthusiast. For her, the art form’s finest hours are yet to come, a deep conviction that guides her in her day-to-day work.

Drawing heavily on contemporary photographic talent, she embraces a bold vision while maintaining a global perspective on the challenges ahead. Her remarkable analytical mind enables her to grasp every detail, leaving nothing to chance.

Having joined AIPAD, an organization with such a rich history, while it is in the throes of transition, makes her particularly enthusiastic. Her objective is clear: to give a positive contribution to the future of this organization and support its community in its evolution. To this end, she has undertaken to revitalize the Photography Show by bringing the event back to the Park Avenue Armory this year, offering a setting worthy of the talent presented by artists from all over the world.

A worthy project to follow!
Instagram : @lydiamelamedjohnson @aipadphoto


Your first photographic trigger ?
Lydia Melamed Johnson : My dog Ace, a white standard poodle with the best nose.

The man or woman of image who inspires you?
L.M.J. : Julia Margaret Cameron, I love how late in life she began. It makes me realize there could be numerous other paths in my future.

The image you would have liked to take?
L.M.J. : The first one.

The one that moved you the most?
L.M.J. : 4 Children for Sale. The depth of pain and uncertainty in that photograph haunts.

4 Children for Sale, Chicago, 1948 – Photographed for The Vidette-Messenger © Library of Congress / Bettmann / Corbis

And the one that made you angry?
L.M.J. : I really shouldn’t say, it would reveal too much.

A key image in your personal pantheon?
L.M.J. : Man Ray’s Marquise Casati or Egon Schiele photographed by Anton Josef Trčka.

Man Ray, Marquise Casati, 1922 © Man Ray Trust

A photographic memory from your childhood?
L.M.J. : My father leaving on a business trip.

According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?
L.M.J. : Curiosity.

The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
L.M.J. : To revel in the imperfections.

The person you would like to photograph?
L.M.J. : I wish I had been a better photographer when my maternal grandmother was alive. She had an incredible grace and innate poise that is stunning in photos.

An indispensable photo book?
L.M.J. : August Sander: People of the 20th Century.

The camera of your childhood?
L.M.J. : I loved my disposables…

The one you use today?
L.M.J. : My iPhone… I leave it to the professionals.

How would you describe your creative process?
L.M.J. : Collaborative.

An upcoming project that’s close to your heart?
L.M.J. : The Photography Show presented by AIPAD opening this week!

Your favorite drug?
L.M.J. : Champagne.

The best way to disconnect for you ?
L.M.J. : A great book of fiction.

What is your relationship with the image ?
L.M.J. : I wish I could live inside them.

Who would you like to be photographed by ?
L.M.J. : Too many to count! Working now probably Cindy Sherman or Mickalene Thomas. No longer with us? August Sander or Ilse Bing.

How would you describe your personality?
L.M.J. : Skeptical.

Your latest folly?
: Opening an art fair with a four-month-old daughter that doesn’t yet sleep through the night.

An image to illustrate a new banknote?
L.M.J. : A horse.

The job you would not have liked to do ?
L.M.J. : Dentist. Teeth terrify me.

Your greatest professional extravagance?
L.M.J. : Hiring the best people.

What question gets you off track?
L.M.J. : “Have you ever considered…”

The city, the country or the culture you dream of discovering?
L.M.J. : Lithuania and Lativa.

The place you never get tired of ?
: New York.

Your biggest regret?
L.M.J. : That I didn’t sleep better in my 20’s… and that I haven’t bought a Lilliana Porter photograph.

In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat and why?
L.M.J. : Instagram and TikTok. Instagram to see what my friends and colleagues are doing, TikTok to see the great humor and creativity the world contains.

Color or B&W?
L.M.J. : Color for photography, B&W for clothing.

Daylight or artificial light?
L.M.J. : Daylight.

Which city do you think is the most photogenic?
L.M.J. : Kyoto.

If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
L.M.J. : Definitely pose, I would love to see what her first inclination for a pose would be.

If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table?
L.M.J. : My mother, my grandmothers, Emilie Flöge, Laura Battiferri, Leonora Carrington, Josephine Baker, Peggy Guggenheim, Lee Miller and my daughter.

The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
L.M.J. : Lunch atop a Skyscraper. Everything is precarious, probably staged, and certainly anxiety inducing.

Lunch atop a Skyscraper, New York, 1932 © Charles Clyde Ebbets

What is missing in today’s world?
L.M.J. : Empathy and consideration.

If you had to start all over again?
L.M.J. : I wouldn’t.

What do you like people to say about you?
L.M.J. : That I’m kind, tenacious and ambitious.

The one thing you absolutely must know about yourself?
L.M.J. : What I’m eating for dinner.

A last word?


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