For proof that photography can open your world, look no further than the boundary-pushing second edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles, which runs from Friday to Sunday at Paramount Pictures Studios. Like the medium itself — which freed experience from geography and time, so that viewers no longer had to actually be there in order to see something happen — the very structure of the event is a paean to fluidity. The art fair started 17 years ago in Paris and now has an annual outpost in Los Angeles on a backlot replica of New York City. “The history of photography is made of ambiguity,” says the event’s director, Julien Frydman. “If you look at photography as a self-contained medium you lose 50 percent of it, maybe more. Photography is nourished by other forms of art and in dialogue with other forms of art.”
That dialogue is well represented at the fair. As part of its “Sound and Vision” programming, Jeff Wall, whose photographs are perhaps best known for their painterly ambition and cinematic staging, will chat with the film editor Kevin Tent, who cut “Nebraska.” Louise Alexander Gallery will present work from the personal archives of the iconic fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, who studied with Man Ray before going to work at French Vogue. At Cherry and Martin, the rising star Brian Bress’s looped video installations feature actors obscured by collaged masks. Gina Osterloh’s photographs of paper cutouts at François Ghebaly Gallery and the Bolivian artist Gaston Ugalde’s humorous meditations on nature at Salar Galería de Arte play at the edges of performance and installation. A screening of the siblings Jack and Leigh Ruby’s “Car Wash Incident,” a video reenactment based on a 1975 photograph of a New Jersey car wash, offers another intersection of still and moving images. The fair’s tribute to Dennis Hopper will include not only photographic work but also his 1971 meta-Western “The Last Movie,” rarely seen since its initial commercial failure, which Hopper compared to an Abstract Expressionist painting.
Other work on view tackles how the self-affirming truth of the photographic image can bump up against fiction. To inaugurate a new annual series focused on archival photography, called “UNEDITED!,” Frydman culled L.A.P.D. images from 1925 through the 1970s. The result reveals the narrative potential of forensic evidence. “I selected images that had this ambivalence; they were both a document and amazing, great pictures,” Frydman says. “I realized they were strong images that generated, like any art piece, a reaction, a metaphor, a critical point of view.” Ambiguities also arise in the work of Jim Krantz, whose photographs of cowboys for Marlboro ad campaigns were later appropriated by Richard Prince, and in the images in a new monograph of work by Collier Schorr, “8 Women” (MACK Books), which showcases the photographer’s repurposing of outtakes from her own commercial portraiture.
“Photography is a starting point, but it’s not about keeping categories or barriers alive. On the contrary, it seems having a specific subject helps people feel more at ease about where those barriers fall apart,” Frydman says. And if 81 exhibitors representing 18 countries — including 31 solo shows — isn’t enough visual information, there’s always one last line to cross. This is the first year of the Photo Independent Art Fair, which highlights photographers who don’t yet have gallery representation. It’s just across the street.
Paris Photo Los Angeles runs April 25 – April 27 at Paramount Pictures Studios, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles; parisphoto.com/losangeles.
Photo Independent Art Fair runs April 25 – April 27 at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; photoindependent.com.
- Guy Bourdin’s photograph from Vogue Paris, 1970, will be exhibited by Louise Alexander Gallery this weekend at Paris Photo Los Angeles.
- Josef Hoflehner’s “Central Park II (New York, 2011),” 2011, exhibited by Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska, Salzburg.
- Thierry Fontaine’s “Le Fabricant de Rêve,” 2008, exhibited by Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris.
- Charlie White’s “Still Life of Meats with Taker,” 2014, exhibited by Loock Galerie, Berlin.
- Gaston Ugalde’s “Colorado X,” 2012, exhibited by Salar Galería de Arte, Bolivia.
- An L.A.P.D. photo from October 10, 1942 of two bullet holes in car window, part of the “UNEDITED!” show. LAPD, courtesy of Fototeka