It is not enough anymore to review Paris Photo. With the addition of Offprint, and this year – Le PhotobookFest, a complete review of the city is needed. I am not the person to provide this complete and unbiased view of Paris 2013, but still I shall try with a quick reflection on the different events and some lessons learned in the 4 days I spent in town.
Paris Photo 2013
Image = PARIS PHOTO
Photography is by no means dead but Paris Photo is moribund. Everyone has known for some time that the exhibition is really no more than an expensive, glossy trade show but this year was especially uninspiring. It was my belief that exhibitions/events like this should show new work, spark conversations and the like but this years offering was lazy and showed no inclination whatsoever to showcase inspiring work – unless it also happened to be large, colour and by the latest hot photographer.
When I have thousands of pounds to blow on a photograph to sit above my dinner table I shall head straight to Paris Photo and be doted on by gallerists and glamorous assistants, until then I think I will avoid it! The one redeeming feature that returned in 2013 was Aperture’s book award section with display copies for anyone who could squeeze through to see them.
Offprint Paris 2013
I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked at Offprint this year, but as last year, it offered an antidote to Paris Photo. The hall was lively, packed with publishers and artists who were all keen to talk and show work, if a little rushed by the flow of visitors. I can’t say i saw a great deal that interested me, at least not compared to last year but as I talked with others who has been there, they produced some real gems – perhaps I simply needed more time to peruse.
The ‘live’ bookmaking project in the side print room was a highlight, I regretted not making one myself.
Fair warning: I helped, albeit in a small way, on this project.
Le PhotobookFest was organised by Pablo Porlan and Emilie Hallard of the Photobook Club Paris and featured Nathalie Belayache, Juan Cires and Ricardo Garrido (Of the Photobook Club Madrid), Akina Books and a host of other speakers and helpers. The idea was to create a space to exhibit interesting books and encourage informal but thoughtful discussions. With that in mind the three days were a huge success – from 300 odd folk arriving to the opening on Friday night to relaxed conversations over books at the bar on Sunday.
The Le PhotobookFest/Photobook Club Family!
Image by Sean Davey of the Photobook Club Australia
I hope that in the days to come there may be other reviews of the event by people who were not directly involved – they may carry more weight than mine but in the meantime a huge thanks and congratulations for all who made it happen, especially to Emilie and Pablo who should be having a chilled week now!
Update 1: In fact I have just seen this posted by Annakarin Quinto:
“Wonderful books, good wine, plenty of coffee, warm passion, wide friendships, free hearts, new experiences, deep sharings and much more. Thank you the Le Photobookfest 2013 to make all this possible at Picturetank and le.bar. le bar Floréal.photographie”
Update 2: A mention in Blank Paper as an relaxed and close event in contrast with Paris Photo’s formal structure.
What I learned in Paris, 2013:
- People are still talking about the bloody Afronauts!
- Being able to get cold beer for €2, see some brand spanking new work in the form of dummys and relax with a book from l’Ascenseur Végétal is close to photobook heaven
- For the most part, artists and publishers are keen to talk, share stories and collaborate
- Broomberg and Chanarin must not be bad-mouthed for fear of being shunned by the photobook community
- Along with the photobook itself, the viewer is evolving, ready to embrace new explorations into narrative formats within the once-linear medium of the book
- Gloves and coffee are essential items for an afternoon at Offprint
- BookJockey sessions are awesome and for their humor and relaxed atmosphere, cover a surprising amount of information, make some deep links and pose interesting questions
- There are too many books to even attempt seeing all of them, so many goodn’s will slip away unnoticed, a price we pay for such a rich publishing scene
- Conversations about the Photobook bubble and sustainability will persist until they are seriously addressed or we are afforded the benefit of hindsight