Mois de la Photo à Paris 2012

A first look


Chief curator

The themes chosen for the 17th edition of the Month of Photography serve a dual purpose: they provide an insight into the richness and diversity of contemporary French creative photography; and they explore one of the most frequents uses of photography, which prevailed from its beginnings until the 1980s, namely small format prints.

At the MEP, Alain Sayag and Gilles Mora present us with a contemporary history of photography. In a chronologically arranged show combining photographic prints and printed pages, they highlight key moments in what many people today consider to be a Golden Age.

In counterpoint, we have a chance to rediscover the work of publisher and photographer Claude Nori, poetic images by Susan Paulsen, and the results of a curatorial carte blanche given to Jean-Claude Lemagny and Alain Fleischer, who have chosen, respectively, to showcase the work of Jean Luc Tartarin and Sarah Nouvel’s self-portraits.

Leonor Nuridsany, associate curator of the Month of Photography alongside Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr and Stéphane Wargnier, offers a selection that features much hitherto unseen work. At the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Françoise Huguier presents the first pictures from her latest photographic project in Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France, presents a still little-known photographer, Etienne-Bertrand Weill, while the FIAP Jean Monnet spotlights the work of the Sudre family, who left their mark on the photographic scene for several generations. But the real revelations of the 2012 edition are undoubtedly young artists such as Moussa Sarr at the Galerie Martine et Thibault de la Châtre, Nicolas Descottes at the Galerie Pierre Brullé, and photographers who have joined new collectives such as Modds or Transit. Not to mention the fine tribute paid at the Musée du Montparnasse to Mademoiselle Yvette Troispoux, whom Robert Doisneau affectionately referred to as “ma photocopine” (“my photofriend”).

The show entitled Le Réel Enchanté focuses on fashion, advertising and stage photography. Stéphane Wargnier has chosen to turn the spotlight on the work of Ryszard Horowitz at the Galerie Basia Embericos, while Jean-Pierre Porcher takes us on a painterly journey in the company of Le Corbusier. Visitors to the Galerie Serge Aboukrat will be thrilled to discover the work of Deborah Turbeville, while the Institut Hongrois showcases photographs by Ferenc Berko. Sandrine Elberg’s “Burlesque Paris” will be of great interest to those who believe that photography must “overplay” reality.

“Small is beautiful”- an idea Alain Paviot launched a few years ago – returns in force thanks to Agnès de Gouvion-Saint-Cyr’s selection. Jules Iter’s early photographs of China in the mid 1850s revisited by Patrick Bailly-Maître-Grand, and the poetic miniatures by Sarah Moon, Bernard Plossu and Masao Yamamoto at the Galerie Camera Obscura, are sure to give rise to some bold, stimulating comparisons. At Le Petit Endroit and the Hôtel Lutetia, Jean-Baptiste Sénégas revisits the daguerreotype and the ambrotype, while the Institut Néerlandais shows how Charlotte Dumas began to work with Polaroid.

This interest in historic techniques, at a time when everything is going digital, is one of the singular features of contemporary photography.
As always at the Month of Photography, large-scale shows on broader themes also form part of the programme, such as the tribute to Manuel Alvarez Bravo at the Jeu de Paume, Paul Graham at the BAL, and the carte blanche given to the Maison de l’Amérique Latine. Not forgetting, of course, the screenings, discussions and lectures that always make festivals such vibrant, colourful events.

Having taken this “first look” at the Month of Photography, I would like to thank the three associate curators who have managed to bring together such an innovative and compelling set of initiatives, as well as our public and private sponsors who, once again, have provided their support to ensure that this 17th edition will be the highlight of the Paris photographic season.