Now in its 24th year, Paris Photo is the largest international art fair dedicated to photography. With an explicitly global focus – the programme features 147 galleries from 28 countries – the festival promotes a spirit of collaboration and cultural exchange. Newly hosted at the Grand Palais Ephémère at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, fortunate visitors will encounter a myriad of exhibitions, artist talks, photobook fares, and other exciting events.
To help you navigate this flourishing activity, we’ve rounded up some of Paris Photo’s most essential viewing. You won’t want to miss…
Elles x Paris Photo 2021
Supported by the Kering program Women In Motion, and initiated in 2019 in partnership with the French Ministry of Culture, Elles x Paris Photo 2021 is a program and dedicated website which highlights the outstanding work of women in the arts and their contribution to the history of photography. For the 2021 edition, art historian Nathalie Herschdorfer curates a selection of works online and at the fair by women artists. Many historical and contemporary Heroines feature amid the line-up, including Anna Atkins, Dora Maar, Katy Grannan, Madame d’Ora, Mary Ellen Mark, Miyako Ishiuchi, ORLAN, and Sally Mann.
SOLO EXHIBITION: Ilit Azoulay, Mousework
On display at Paris Photo, Ilit’s Mousework is described as ‘an uncanny and softly disturbing series of works that closely observes the crucial role photography played in the invention of “hysteria” and its perception in the medical and psychoanalytical fields.’ Dismantling cultural myths of femininity, Ilit’s thirty-five photographic triptychs constitute digital ‘cabinets of curiosity’ which ‘reconstruct histories outside of their dominant context and mainstream discourse,’ configuring them anew by showcasing forgotten or undermined objects.
SOLO EXHIBITION: Joana Choumali – Albahian
Based on her practice of daily observation, Albahian (from ‘Alba’hian’ which means ‘day rises, dawn’ in the Agni language of Ivory Coast) explores changes in Joana’s thoughts and perception of reality. Superimposing photographs of silhouettes and dawn landscapes upon layers of fabric, Joana gradually creates a new psychological landscape which the viewer, equally, can inhabit. The works are not immediately visible in full, but reveal themselves gradually, in much the same way that environmental awareness develops during physical journeys.
GROUP EXHIBITION: Sean McFarland | Suné Woods (Bountiful Darkness)
In this group show, San Francisco gallery Casemore Kirkeby presents two bodies of work featuring Sean McFarland and Suné Woods. In Bountiful Darkness (2010), Suné Woods explores race and gender in relation to landscape. For her series of rich monochromatic images, Suné ‘attempts to reclaim […] landscapes where resistance and violence were plentiful’ by situating women of colour, in repose, in rural space. The work questions whether dominant cultural discourse, dictated by white and patriarchal paradigms, indelibly alters depictions of women, particularly women of colour, in these contexts.
The Curiosa sector, inaugurated in 2018 and dedicated to emerging artists, presents a selection of twenty projects curated by Shoair Mavlian, director of Photoworks and former assistant curator of photography at the Tate Modern. This year, Curiosa will highlight new trends in conceptual and documentary approaches, as well as experimental and diaristic practice. The sector offers a fascinating glimpse into innovative photographic methods, akin to those pioneered by many of our contemporary Heroines, and hints at what the future of photography might look like.
GROUP EXHIBITION: Carte Blanche – Students 2021
Renewing their partnership into its 5th year, Paris Photo, Picto Foundation, and rail company SNCF Gares & Connexions have developed a platform which amplifies the exposure of outstanding young talent within MA or BA programs in European visual arts schools. This year, four student projects by Carte Blanche open call winners Mina Boromand, Emile Gostelie, Francesca Hummler, and Emil Lombardo will be presented in a large format exhibition at Paris Gare du Nord train station, as well as in a dedicated space at Paris Photo.
The exhibition provides an exciting opportunity to engage with the work of emerging photographic artists.
Online viewing room
To accompany its 2021 edition, Paris Photo has launched its very first Online Viewing Room. For those who can’t attend in person, the platform offers additional content from the Paris Photo galleries and publishers, enabling collectors to acquire artworks, list their favourites, discover new talent, browse the curators’ – including Hundred Heroines Criteria of Merit panellist Sunil Gupta – choices and build new relationships with galleries and publishers, wherever they are in the world. Public opening: Thursday 11 November 11am (CET) – Wednesday 17 November 11am (CET)