From a landmark survey of contemporary African photography to Viviane Sassen’s retrospective in Paris, here’s a round-up of the photography shows you need to know about this year
As the world seems to have finally settled down since the plague years – with last year showing us that the eagerness to return to IRL events never went away – we are in for another mighty photography treat in 2023. While there’ll be plenty of crowd-pleasers, including big retrospectives of big names such as Viviane Sassen to Daido Moriyama, we’ll also be introduced to new faces and less widely celebrated figures from far beyond the traditional western cannon. Here, we’ve curated a handful of photography exhibitions to have on your radar this year.
What a joy it is to see the knock-out retrospective of Samuel Fosso doing the rounds, and in turn increase the visibility and appreciation of this most enigmatic artist. The latest institution to open its doors to the many lives of Fosso is Huis Marseille, Amsterdam’s premier photography spot. It’s the most varied “one-man show” you’ll see all year, with Fosso to be found at every turn, donning high heels and a panama hat, restaging Esquire’s 1968 cover of an impaled Muhammad Ali or transformed as the first ever Black Pope. Engaging with notions of perception, gender and sexuality, his experimental self-portraiture embodies a powerful way of existing in the world, bearing witness not only to post-colonial histories but to the remarkable story of Fosso’s own life.
Samuel Fosso runs at Huis Marseille until 12 March 2023
In 1967, VALIE EXPORT shredded her father and ex-husband’s surnames and pinched an upper-case one from a popular brand of cigarettes. Following this unequivocally feminist gesture of self-determination, EXPORT asserted herself within Vienna’s boys-dominated art scene and turned her body into a force to be reckoned with (and literally touched). The upcoming exhibition at Fotomuseum Winterthur will be the first to focus on EXPORT’s photography, while also integrating a variety of media – operating at the junctures of film, video art and body art – to critically examine the ways in which the power relations inherent the mass media inscribe women’s bodies. EXPORT’s fires of rebellion, indignation and courage are still burning bright. A true provocateur and icon of international feminist art.
VALIE EXPORT – The Photographs runs from 25 February – 29 May 2023 at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Masahisa Fukase, the ultimate selfie master, is one of the most radical and original photographers of his generation. His first ever retrospective exhibition at a Japanese museum promises to be a delightful affair. It will include all of Fukase’s greatest hits, from his snapshots of his wife Yoko pulling faces on the street to his poignant series of selfies taken in his bubbly bathtub. Fabulous!
Retrospective runs from 3 March – 4 June 2023 at Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
In March, Bordeaux’s spectacular MÉCA will crack out a mouth-watering group show dedicated to the sexy, scandalous surrealist Pierre Molinier. You feel the narcissist would have been delighted by the prospect of artists congregating around his flailing legs. The curation will put him in the company of the likes of Claude Cahun, Cindy Sherman, Reba Maybury and Camille Vivier to generate a variety of dialogues concerning fetishism, tantrism, drag and body politics. A sure-fire hit!
Molinier Rose saumon runs from 31 March – 17 September 2023 at Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine La MÉCA, Bordeaux
Organised by Holly Roussell, one of the most exciting photography curators working right now, SLIDE / SHOW is set to be a standout in the Chinese calendar. The exhibition will examine the role of projected photography in the development of Chinese contemporary art. “In the 1980s, art historical texts and images from beyond China’s borders began to filter into the country and introduce new cultural references,” Roussell tells Dazed. “Portable and reproducible, the photographic slide was central to this expanding landscape of exchange. Initially, slides gave artists and critics new visibility onto art produced elsewhere and served as a tool in transmission locally. However, within a few years, artists educated by slides went on to pioneer the next decade of transparency as a feature of art. I hope the curatorial approach, which encompasses archival materials, photographs, slides, video and large-scale installation works, will provoke questions about historiography and perhaps incite future research into some of the events or groups highlighted.”
SLIDE / SHOW runs from 29 April – 13 August 2023 at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing
MOMA’s celebrated series New Photography has been championing new achievements in photography since 1985. Organised by Associate Curator Oluremi C. Onabanjo, this year’s edition is historic because it is the first to focus on a specific art scene in the world: Lagos, Nigeria. With an inter-generational line-up including Kelani Abass, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Yagazie Emezi, Amanda Iheme, Abraham Oghobase, Karl Ohiri and Logo Oluwamuyiwa, the exhibition will interweave complex urban narratives – tales of migration, labour, desperation, success, hope and imagination – all the while exploring the different forms that the photographic image can take.
New Photography 2023 runs from 28 May – 16 September 2023 at MOMA, New York City
This summer, the Tate Modern will stage a landmark show devoted to African photography today. Led by thematic rooms rather than a conventional historical narrative, A World in Common will highlight how photography and video has allowed artists to explore ancient traditions, postcolonial utopias, spirituality, climate change and future urban landscapes as a way of reimagining Africa’s place in the world. “It will move beyond the hyper-visibility of African portraiture,” Osei Bonsu, Curator of International Art, Tate, tells Dazed. “Many of the artists use archives to reclaim untold or little-known histories. For example, Kudzanai Chiurai uses visual references from popular culture and art history to stage alternative colonial histories and futures that reject common misconceptions about Africa. In his series We Live in Silence (2017), a female protagonist plays a central role in recent struggles for African liberation, challenging the gender bias which tends to overlook the contributions of women to African and global histories.”
A World in Common: Contemporary African Photography runs from 6 July 2023 – 14 January 2024 at Tate Modern, London
Bound to bowl audiences over this autumn is Daido Moriyama’s retrospective at The Photographers’ Gallery. It will dive into Moriyama’s career to better understand his path and conceptual contributions to photography with an emphasis on his ground-breaking magazines, zines and books. “Even those who admire his extraordinary street photography will be surprised to see how deeply he has investigated the media since the 1960s,” explains curator Thyago Nogueira. “Visitors will be able to follow the different moments of his extensive career, from the early magazine work in post-war Japan to the dissolution of photography through Provoke and Farewell Photography (1972), from the autobiographical series of the 80s to the critical reactions to consumerist society of the 2000s. Visitors will also discover Moriyama's admiration for Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac and Tadanori Yokoo, amongst other creative minds. It will be a show about love, passion, melancholy, solitude and, above all, the boldness to keep asking a fundamental question: What is photography after all?”
Daido Moriyama: A Retrospective runs from 6 October 2023 – 25 February 2024 at The Photographers’ Gallery, London
MIRRORS AND PORTALS, VIVIANE SASSEN, MEP, PARIS, FRANCE
Viviane Sassen in Paris? Now, that’s a heavenly combination indeed. This autumn, the MEP will run the gamut of the photographer’s vivacious oeuvre, which straddles the realms of art and fashion with a characteristically individual and non-conformist flair. Sassen’s signature use of shadow play and colour fields is always a sight to behold, and will be flaunted across the museum’s elegant showrooms alongside paintings, collages and videos. It will be just one of this year’s MEP exhibitions celebrating women artists, with Zanele Muholi, Senta Simond and Maya Rochat all in the mix. File as: “can’t miss”.
Mirrors and Portals runs from 18 October 2023 – 11 February 2024 at MEP, Paris
PHOTOCOLLAGE, DEBORAH TURBEVILLE, PHOTO ELYSÉE, LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND
In November, Lausanne’s Photo Elysée will offer a canon-revising surprise with its exhibition on Deborah Turbeville, who made her reputation as fashion's “anti-Helmut Newton” in the 1970s, a decade that saw the industry fixated on the dark and threatening corners of the collective unconscious. Moving beyond Turbeville’s fashion work, the show will hone in on her misty, melancholic collages. “Cut, torn, glued and pinned on sheets of craft paper, these otherworldly pieces confirm Turbeville’s interest in experimentation as well as narration,” explains curator Nathalie Herschdorfer. “It is always fascinating to discover ‘unseen’ works, but even more so when they are by a woman artist who has been overshadowed by men. The exhibition will re-evaluate Turbeville’s position in the history of photography. Prepare to be amazed!”
Photocollage runs from 2 November 2023 – 28 January 2024 at Photo Elysée, Lausanne