Just as about the whole of photography loving Netherlands I traveled to Paris with FOTODOK for an exciting long weekend full of photography. The 15th edition of the international renowned Paris Photo Fair was dominated by African photography, from Bamako to Cape Town. There was focus on the new generation of contemporary African photographers in the exhibition Rencontres de Bamako, in the collection of contemporary African photography collector Artur Walther and at the fairground the photographs of Malick Sidibé, Seidu Keita and rising star Pieter Hugo were strongly (over)represented.
The fifteenth edition of Paris Photo took place at a new location, the underground, sweaty catacombs of the Carrousel de Louvre were exchanged for the prestigious grandeur of the Grand Palais. Upon entering I get an idea of how visitors to the World Exposition in 1900 must have felt when they impatiently waited in line to enter the imposing edifice for the first time to take a look at technological inventions and advancements. More than one hundred years later, not much has changed, throughout the weekend the public impatiently queues up at the entrance of the Palais.
New this year was not only the location but also the presentation of the first edition of the Paris Photo Book Prize for the best photobook of the past 15 years (won by Paul Graham – A Shimmer of Possibility), and the Mutations Platform where deeper understanding of photography was sought through interviews, roundtable discussions, artist talks and performances. In this way the photo fair reaches a growing audience. Under the direction of curator and editor Chantal Pontbriand the platform presented an interesting book with the same title Mutations and an impressive lineup of internationally acclaimed guests including Carl de Keyzer, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Jim Goldberg, Mikhael Subotzky, David Claerbout, Sunil Gupta and Allan Sekula. Although not every meeting was as strong as it could have been, this focus on content was for me a welcome addition to the dizzying range of commercial photographs at the exhibition.
Who was looking for young talent and (yet) unfamiliar names could visit the various “off” fairs elsewhere in Paris, such as Photo Off and No Found. Those who preferred to immerse in a wealth of books and publications of all sizes and in all price ranges could indulge in the second (and again successful) edition of the Offprint photobook fair.