“photo la”2015, Dual for the best
This 24th edition of photo la was two-headed. The show off part with the galleries that was not a grand cru this year. The other part, more B to B, was constituted with an interesting programing and a variety of booths dedicated to help the photographers.
2015 was not the best “cru” ever but it was ok…
The 47 participating galleries didn’t show any new or revolutionary photographs: the angles taken, the subjects chosen, the concepts or intention behind the works were a bit weak.
For example, the installation of the great Los Angeles based photographer Catherine Opie was disappointing and brought to me a bit of a disillusion. I still have in mind the extraordinary series of “Mini Malls” shown in 2010 at the Getty Center, it was documented with such a high level of artistic. Here, just a couple of big size photographs (ready for museums) representing blurred landscapes and blurred ocean. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t excellent. The topic could have been everyone’s topic. We couldn’t feel the Opie’s signature.
Other installations were to be seen like “Selections from Los Angeles collections” which is interesting to see the taste of LA Collectors and understand how far they go aesthetically in collecting photography compared with Painting Collectors for example who are more classical.
A great installation offered by two Collect Bryan and Aileen Cooke displayed the recent work of LA Based Artist Anthony Hernandez (see “best photographer” below)
Another installation but a very disappointing one, Focus LA. For some obscure reason they lost the idea of showing emerging talents through a prize. Today was a horrible display of photographers……
Women in Photography, was a good theme and good pictures were shown but it was a bit too much elliptical and it didn’t show a curating intention, like if just to be a woman was sufficient to be hanged.
The best discovery this year was the tandem made with Australian from Brisbane, Kelly Hussey-Smith and Alan Hill, shown at Queensland Art Centre for Photograhy.
Alan Hill is a documentary photographer and lecturer at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in Brisbane.
Kelly Hussey-Smith is a documentary practitioner interested in sharing human experiences through photography and storytelling.
Much of Kelly Hussey-Smith and Alan Hill’s collaborative practice explores societal and ideological transitions through social landscapes. Fibro Coast takes its name from the humble Australian ‘fibro’ houses that were built post-war as simple holiday homes by the sea. Known in its most simple form as ‘a tent with walls’, fibro houses are a rare example of a uniquely Australian architectural vernacular. The relaxed and informal setting of these homes, and other coastal dwellings, face an uncertain future as development interests inevitably win out over heritage. Fibro Coast celebrates the uniqueness of these spaces as functional and minimalist forms, while examining the changes taking place in their midst.
Excellent work by LA based Photographer, Anthony Hernandez
Ex aequo, Queensland Centre for Photography and Amanasalto from Tokyo
Amanasalto, Tokyo, Japan
They produce, promote, and distribute limited edition photographic prints, books, and portfolios. The hanging was a perfection: demanding and diverse topics and not too much works on display.
Queensland Centre for Photography
They showed Anna Carey, Chris Bowes and Kelly Hussey-Smith (mentioned above).
Angelenos we are lucky, they are moving to Los Angeles to represent their incredible Australian Photographers! The art school in Queensland provides each year a good number of excellent photographers to the world. Every characteristic required to make good pictures is in their work: meaning with a focus on a topic both political, social or whatever it is with plus excellent technical tools.
Authenticity in photography pays off in so many ways. It shows the real life of real people in their real context with no Photoshop, in a real attitude of compassion from the photographer. No mockery, no voyeurism, just show people as they are.
This year the palm goes to Open Shutter, a gallery from Durango, CO with works by James Cammack, a photographer from Durango, Colorado and Pentti Sammallahti from Helsinki, Finland.
www.luminous-lint.com for connoisseurs of photography
Alan Griffiths is the most erudite person in the History of photography I ever seen: Luminous-Lint has been constructed collaboratively over the last decade to share information on the history of photography worldwide. Over 2,500 people, estates and institutions have provided information – with hundreds of continually-improving histories of photography it is unique in the arts
Luminous-tint which is so useful to any photography passionate is a good transition to introduce the other purpose of “photo la” which become more and more essential to Los Angeles.
“photo la” a “B to B” art fair
Photo la appeared this year like a “B to B art fair”: extremely useful for professionals in addition to the traditional interest for collectors.
- 7 non-profit Organizations
Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk
Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA)
The THUTO Foundation
Women in Photography International
- 11 magazines represented,
- 7 art schools represented
Art Center College of Design
California Institute of the Arts
California State University Northridg
College of the Canyons
Orange County Museum of Art
Otis College of Art & Design
Santa Monica College
- and a consistent curated programming which includes lectures, round table discussions, panels, book signings, installations
- docent tours (this year no less than Weston Naef, the remarkable Curator Emeritus, Department of Photographs of the J. Paul Getty Museum)
In conclusion it was an interesting Curated Programming designed in order to help the understanding of the Collectors but also designed to help all the categories of photographers, Established, Beginners in their career but we feel that “photo la” should have been amplified that B to B part.
Let’s call a spade a spade: we, people from Los Angeles, all know that in 2013 “Paris Photo-Los Angeles” art fair, very famous for its high quality of artworks, has taken most of all the good galleries from Photo la. Therefore, the challenge was particularly demanding for Photo la.
However, the Photographers of the West Coast are so important in Los Angeles that they deserve something that could resemble to the famous “Les Rencontres de la photo” in Arles, France and my feeling is that Stephen Cohen is able to reach that goal. BCh
*Les Rencontres d’Arles workshops: https://www.rencontres-arles.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=ARLAR1_18_VForm&LANGSWI=1&LANG=English