The sunny, subversive thrill of celebrating photography in the heart of movie-land is showing no sign of fading. Paris Photo Los Angeles has kicked off its third stateside edition at Paramount Pictures Studios, with the help of stars from both Hollywood (Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore) and the art world (Sterling Ruby, Catherine Opie). With 70 galleries from 17 countries exhibiting throughout three cavernous soundstages and the ersatz storefronts of Paramount's New York City backlot, this year's fair had an emphasis on emerging artists and young galleries to balance its strong roster of canonical image-makers.
'Paris Photo Los Angeles is a mix of historical and contemporary images, and it's a point of connection located in an iconic place,' said fair director Florence Bourgeois, noting the choice of 33 galleries to present solo shows spotlighting the likes of Guy Bourdin, Ralph Gibson, Liu Bolin, Matthew Rolston and Rachel Rom. 'It's a unique opportunity to really delve into the universe of each artist exhibited.'
Among the standout single-artist stands is that of Paris-based Christophe Gaillard gallery, which showcases the work of Unglee, an enigmatic tulipomaniac who mixes exquisite images of the blooms - in painterly close-ups, botanical abstractions, splayed bouquets multiplied in Polaroid grids - with obituaries of himself. 'You never know if he really exists or not,' said Paris Photo artistic director Christoph Wiesner with a bemused shrug. 'He's famous for his photos of tulips but also for creating a history around his own life. He's died several times now.'
Alive and well is Los Angeles-based Zoe Crosher, whose 31 square photographs of landing planes are tiled on a single wall of LAM Gallery's stand. The window-sized images were taken from each hotel and motel that surrounds Los Angeles International Airport. Another local gallery, M+B, looks back to the Golden State's golden age in the images of surf photographer LeRoy Grannis, while Leica presents François Fontaine's silent cinematic homage: fuzzy snapshots of iconic movie moments.
Meta-decisive moments are also provided by Sandro Miller, whose meticulous recreations of iconic images - think Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother or a Warhol Marilyn - all star John Malkovich. In one photo offered by Chicago-based Catherine Edelman gallery, the actor appears as both of Diane Arbus's famous identical twins of 1967. 'The emotion in both of those girls - one with fear and hesitation while the other stood tall with a smile, wanting to be photographed - John had to nail both of those,' according to Miller, who spent a year researching the project and obsessing over every detail, from the girl's dresses to the paint splattered on the sidewalk.
The ever-mutating roles of photography are explored by Mazaccio & Drowilal (French duo Elise Mazac and Robert Drowilal). The pair's 'Wild Style' exhibition, presented by BMW, is an Instagrammer's dream: dogs staring at sunsets, a spread of artfully cut watermelon, a photocube that transforms images into an object, a plethora of cats. Much of the work was created during the pair's BMW-backed residency at France's Musée Nicéphore Niépce. The museum's director, François Cheval, has described Mazaccio & Drowilal's work (approvingly) as 'a frontal attack on good taste' powered by a 'tsunami of vulgar images.' Perhaps it's because, as Drowilal says, 'photography does not stop once we've taken the picture.'