Pin It
Miron Zownir, RIP NYC
A 1983 image taken from Zownir's book “RIP NYC”Photography Miron Zownir

In Paris? This photo fair should be on your itinerary

From the subcultural underbelly of 70s New York to the poverty of outcasts in post soviet Russia, here’s what to feast your eyes on at Paris Photo

With the tidal wave of fine art and book fairs now over, November sees the art world calendar turn to photography in the form of Paris Photo. Situated under the monumental glass roof of the Grand Palais, the fair presents the largest panorama of the photographic medium. An ideal excuse to jump on the next Eurostar, this year's 19th edition sees nearly 150 galleries showcasing alongside publishers and art book dealers. Traversing genres from documentary to abstract, you'll find old favourites exhibited like Walker Evans and Nan Goldin together with lesser-known practitioners. Naturally, it guarantees an emotional roller coaster ride with the good ol' grand themes of life, love, death, and the human condition dutifully explored. Below, Dazed’s photography department – Lauren Ford and Saorla Houston – pick out the bittersweet highlights from the four-day event taking place this 12–16 November.


In his seminal Case History series (1997-98), one of the preeminent photographers of the former Soviet Union, Boris Mikhailov, documents the bleak reality of a disenfranchised community living on the margins of Russia’s new economic regime. Both miserable and poetic, his images, Ford and Houston suggest, “depict such a raw sense of society that they are almost uncomfortable to look at. This image had a sweet naivety to it but still a definite underlying darkness.”


Once homeless, British documentary photographer, Chris Shaw, took up a job as a hotel night porter in order to get off living on the streets of London. During his ten-year stint in swanky hotels and seedy motels he recorded the regular spectacles of drunken mischief that formed his series Life of a Night Porter. Ford and Houston explain: “The story behind this series is great; taking photos to stop himself falling asleep. He shoots like he is lurking in corners.”


A prominent figure of Japanese avant-garde photography, Daido Moriyama documented the disintegration of traditional values in post-war Japan. Frustrated with orthodox art and life, his 1972 series Farewell Photography was an attempt to ‘destroy photography’ by allowing a publisher to print his damaged negatives in any way they liked. Recently, negatives that the publisher didn’t print were rediscovered. Ford and Houston muse on one of these prints: “This felt more considered than his usual images, we loved the innocence of what feels like a sordid moment.”


In his Valley series, legendary American photographer, Larry Sultan, photographed middle class, suburban homes rented as pornographic sets in the San Fernando Valley where he grew up. Sultan plays on the artifice of pornography and the social fantasies of home and family. In the words of Ford and Houston: “We love this series, they feel like film stills from something slightly less sinister than what is about to or has already happened.”


One of the pillars of photography, Lee Friedlander spent much of the 60s and 70s in New York documenting the tangential moments of American society undergoing the transitions of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. For Ford and Houston, “There is something about the lines in this image that draws you in, like she has been graphically framed by her surroundings. There is an element of mundane humour too.”


New York-based photographer, Martin Schoeller is known for his “hyper-detailed close-ups” of famous personalities from Barak Obama to Lady Gaga, which have appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker, Time, GQ and Vogue. “We love this portrait of Cindy – she looks so fucking cool! Aesthetically quite different to what you would usually see from Martin, very natural, relaxed and personal! #Perf.”


One of the most censored photographers, filmmakers and novelists of our time, Miron Zownir spent nine years of his life documenting the underbelly of the Big Apple and the people who kept it alive. Championing misfits and dreamers, his images captured untamed scenes of gay subculture, and the shadowy world of hookers and junkies. “We love how Miron manages to capture a moment – in this instance it’s quite comical, compared to his usual much darker images.”


While circling in New York’s downtown art scene, Peter Hujar shot for Harper’s Bazaar and GQ, and appeared himself in Andy Warhol’s series called The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys. Influential to photographers such as Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe, his sensitive, black-and-white images captured gay desire. For Ford and Houston: “His portraits are amazing – he has a knack at making pretty much anyone alluring.”


The work of Norwegian-born, Los Angelas-based photographer, Torbhøn Rødland, equivocates between the mundane and the absurd. Replete with idiosyncratic sexual innuendos, his portraits and still lifes embody a melancholic eroticism that unites both humour and malaise. “He has the ability to add an element of ‘random’ to all his pictures, he has a very unique point of view that we find intriguing and clever!”


Drawn to processes of chance and experimentation, the Ankara-born photographer Zeynep Kayan creates murky black-and-white imagery that evoke a visual language of existential angst and mystical desire. In her series Uncomplete, she repeatedly took the same picture to recreate a moment from her idealised past. “We like the way she has reworked her own photographs, taking her original photograph and making it something new over and over again. In turn, creating something quite unique.”

The full programme of Paris Photo can be seen here