'After autumn in Paris, the only place you can go is spring in Los Angeles,' says Julien Frydman, director of Paris Photo, which is currently holding an American edition at Paramount Pictures Studios. The decision to go Hollywood with a second version of the 17-year-old fair was influenced by both the success of the flagship, which attracted 54,000 visitors to the Grand Palais last year, and the central role that the image plays in this sprawling city. Notes Frydman: 'Once I got past the cliché of LA as just the town of the movies, I realized how much art has been produced here, and how much photography and the history of photography matters to the city.'
With 60 exhibiting galleries and a dozen publishers spread among three of Paramount's soundstages, Paris Photo Los Angeles is a glamorous ray of sunshine for fairgoers accustomed to traipsing the aisles of dingy convention centers. The bright, hangar-like stages appear to have been freshly dipped in white paint, and between the multi-gallery exhibition areas is the New York back lot, an ersatz Gotham. Strolling among the streets, vehicle-free save for the odd golf cart, visitors can pop into storefront and townhouse sets that have been transformed into spaces for solo exhibitions and bookshops.
Along with palm trees and a variety of food trucks, the US edition of Paris Photo has rolled out the red carpet for the moving image, a first for the fair. Screenings of film and video works by the likes of Chris Marker and Philippe Parreno as well as on-stage conversations with artists such as Doug Aitken, Gregory Crewdson, and Catherine Opie will take place through Sunday.
'In the postwar period, there's been a collapse of the boundaries between photography, painting, sculpture, performance - all of these things became possibilities,' says Douglas Fogle, formerly the chief curator of LA's Hammer Museum, who organized the fair's special 'Sound and Vision' programming. 'The talks and screenings will be wide-ranging, fun, and very evocative, and cumulatively I think will make the case for why Paris Photo has decided to branch out and push the idea of the image and not simply the still image as such.'
The exhibiting galleries have come prepared for the tinseltown twist on Paris Photo. Fraenkel Gallery welcomes fairgoers to one of the main stages with a trio of Hiroshi Sugimoto's large black and white photos of movie theater interiors (all three cinemas are in California), while Howard Greenberg Gallery is showcasing Edward Steichen's portraits of Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich alongside the work of the recently departed Shomei Tomatsu and Joel Meyerowitz, whose inverted image of a diver underwater winks at the local pool culture. A more sobering take on water comes from Jim Goldberg, who in a series of images taken in Haiti reveals the continued struggle for clean drinking water in the rebuilding nation. His 'Acqua #3' is presented in a special exhibition by sponsor Giorgio Armani.
Both Danziger and Gagosian Gallery have brought a selection of Polaroids by Andy Warhol, who professed to love Los Angeles and Hollywood in all of its beauty and plasticity, and they're joined here by the M1 BMW Art Car created by the Pop artist in 1979. 'If a car is really fast, all contours and colours will become blurred,' said Warhol when creating the car. Of course, he had other ideas about still images: 'My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person.'