Vintage works shine at an increasingly digital Paris Photo fair

In 2018, the family of photographer Antoni Campana came across two red boxes hidden in his garage that contained nearly 5,000 images from the Spanish Civil War. Born in Arbucies in 1905, the Catalan artist

In 2018, the family of photographer Antoni Campana came across two red boxes hidden in his garage that contained nearly 5,000 images from the Spanish Civil War. Born in Arbucies in 1905, the Catalan artist had received several awards for his work but had hidden for decades the glass plates, copies and negatives he made in Barcelona between 1935-40. Showing scenes of everyday life that included young Republicans marching down Diagonal in 1936 and Third Reich soldiers in the same location in 1939, some of these images had been used by the Republican side early on. After Franco came to power, Campana did not want to do propaganda for the other side or knew it would be too dangerous for him to share it.

The work is now exhibited at Paris Photo (until November 13) on the stand of the Galeria RocioSantaCruz in Barcelona. Created in 1997, Paris Photo is the most prestigious international art fair devoted to photography; 25 years later, it now poses some interesting questions for a rapidly changing medium. A gallery owner says there were few 19th century prints at the fair this year, assuming it’s because collectors and museums have already bought them all. New discoveries like Campana’s red boxes only pop up once in a while and meanwhile in Curiosa, the section dedicated to emerging photographers, some contemporary artists are equally at home on screen as they are in print.

suburban haunt by Arash Hanaei and Morad Montazami

Take suburban haunt, an installation by artist Arash Hanaei and curator Morad Montazami. Relating to the utopian architecture of the 1960s-70s and the metaverse, it is a “hybrid and immersive installation” that includes digital drawings, a hologram, two videos and a virtual chess game between Mark Zuckerberg and the late radical British philosopher Mark Fischer. Hanaei and Montazami were the first duo to win the BMW Art Makers program, which supports emerging artists and curators experimenting with contemporary image-making and installation – works that, perhaps, are not so easy for sale as prints. One of the questions Hanaei and Montazami’s play asks is what it means to live in the 21st century, with high resolution screens and the internet.

Galerie Numéro 8 offers a different twist. The gallery is “based online”, says founder Marie Gomis-Trezise, ​​although it appears at art fairs such as Paris Photo. It represents a “globally diverse roster of emerging artists in photography and mixed media” and features prints by David Uzochukwu. A rising Austrian-Nigerian photographer, Uzochukwu built an online community and was included on the show Flickr, 20 under 20 in 2014, organized by the vogue cinematographer Ivan Shaw at Milk Studios, New York. His work will soon be presented at the respected Rencontres de Bamako in Mali in December, has been included in the largely traveling exhibition The New Black Vanguardand was also listed in the catalog of In the dark fantasy, Ekow Eshun’s must-see exhibition at the Hayward Gallery this summer. Uzochukwu is still only 23 years old.

In the case of Gallery Number 8, digital distribution suggests ways in which the Internet can open up access to a wider range of artists. Back at the main show, a new proposition called Fellowship is “championing the future of photography” by selling NFTs alongside prints. Fellowship’s advisory board includes Darius Himes, head of international photography at Christie’s, and its roster includes big names including August Sander and Guy Bourdin, whose work is featured at the fair. He also represents Magnum Photos members such as Christopher Anderson, Jim Goldberg and Cristina de Middel. The scholarship also supports new image makers, and at Paris Photo it also featured the series by Omani-Bahrani visual artist Eman Ali The earth would die if the sun stopped kissing it (2022).

Alfredo Jaar AI morning gold (set of ten light boxes) (1985). Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

But maybe screens are a red herring, as photography has always been a nebulous medium with many lives outside of fine art prints. Goodman Gallery exhibits Alfredo Jaar morning gold, for example, a series of images shot in the Serra Pelada open-pit mine in Brazil in 1985; Jaar originally took over all the billboards at the Spring Street subway station in New York City to show off this work, pairing the images with contemporary gold prices to bring commuters – many of whom travel to Wall Street – face to face. deal with the precarious life of miners. . Coming out of the underground, Jaar presented these images as a series of lightboxes in reference to the shiny world of advertising.

William Henry Fox Talbot A piece of fruit (1845)

And finally, photography has always been a new medium. New York Gallery Hans P Kraus Jr. Inc presents William Henry Fox Talbot’s 1846 salt print A piece of fruit (1845) in Paris, the final illustration for his groundbreaking publication Le Crayon de la nature, which was the first to illustrate the potential of the new medium of photography. Nearly two centuries later, it remains powerful, perhaps even more so, to see the once exotic pineapple still perfectly preserved on paper.