With regard to her craft, renowned American photographer Diane Arbus is quoted:
“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.
”Touché, Ms. Arbus, touché. However, to the contrary, a secret is only as good as its keeper, the photographer, and "the secret is out" if the 2017 iteration of The Photography Show, presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) has anything to do with it. The 37th Edition of the fair, held on Pier 94 in New York City, from March 30 - April 2, 2017, played host to over 115 international galleries showcasing all things photographic from vintage to contemporary/emerging, video and new media. The 2017 show was marked by a move to the Westside from its previous home in the Park Avenue Armory. Despite slightly inclement weather including, but not limited to, torrential downpours and umbrella shattering winds, The Photography Show drew record-breaking crowds of around 15,000 guests versus the 12,000 that passed through its doors at the Armory a year prior.
Agreeing that its trite to mention the weather, I should advise you that it was done with intention beyond small talk. It was fantastic to see such an enthusiastic turnout from collectors, artists, creatives and otherwise aficionados in great numbers to celebrate and honor the photographic medium. Prominent galleries reported excellent sales and the show was well attended by curators. Los Bandidos del Arte has attended more than our fair share of "art fairs" and can whole-heartedly pledge to the fact that this was by far the most refreshing, thought-provoking and inspiring one that we've attended in a long while if ever. (Full disclosure, we obviously have a bias towards photography.) That said, when the word "fair" has too often become synonymous for "circus" in the art world, one really must pay homage to The Photography Show which also housed a PhotoBook fair as well as dynamic and engaging programming.
With regard to the featured programming, Los Bandidos del Arte had the pleasure of attending several panel discussions hosted by the venue. The first entitled "What It's Worth: Navigating Value in the Photo Market" provided broad-sweeping knowledge and insight from true industry insiders including Vivian Ebesrman, Director of Art Expertise for AXA Art Americas Corp., and Bruce Silverstein, renowned collector and dealer, amongst others. When contemplating how to value your own work as an artist or how to gauge the market as a collector (or even better -- a lover) or the medium, the panel offered astute advice on valuation taking into consideration different ways to ascribe value (i.e. collecting value vs resale value, appraisal/tax/insurance considerations, and the importance of factors such as provenance, context and process) amongst other interesting points.
The second panel discussion that we attended, "Cuban Photography Then and Now" showcased Madeleine P. Plonsker's contemporary collection and subsequently produced photobook The Light in Cuban Eyes. Plonsker marked her first visit to the island in 2002 but her collection dates back to 1992 (when the Soviets left the island.)
As we have been actively engaged in our own photo endeavors in Cuba, and half of Los Bandidos is comprised of Havana-born Nicolas Guillen 4th, we were interested to see where we had differences with the panel from our experiences as well as where we could coalesce. We certainly agreed with the concept that there is a particular juxtaposition between the fragility of the infrastructure and the resilience, beauty and education present amongst the Cuban people.
Making the trek from Miami, you wouldn't expect us to feel as though we had home court advantage at Pier 94 in NYC, but you'd be wrong -- and that's because we had Marty Marguiles on our team. A major highlight of AIPAD 2017 was an exhibition of Martin Z. Marguiles' Collection entitled "Fifteen Countries." The photos in the exhibition were derived from 20 different artists hailing from, as the title suggests, 15 countries. The show really translated the fact that photography is a universal language. In addition to the exhibition, Marguiles also hosted a collector talk in conjunction with his longtime curator Katherine Hinds. A major takeaway from such a revered collector was more simple than one might assume: to view photography as images and collect the images that you like.
To circle back to Diane Arbus, one last note: While there has been a ton of media emphasis on recent art fairs with regard to showing women artists (think Zoe Beckman's Champ at Pulse Miami Beach 2016), perhaps there is some truth to "the more it tells the less you know." With masters like Helen Levitt, Diane Arbus, and Cindy Sherman (yes, I veer towards street photography), amongst innumerable others, the photographic medium has more than its fair share of female role models without much mention or hullabaloo surrounding gender. I had the pleasure of meeting Patrizia Della Porta, a NYC and Italy-based photographer represented by the Sabrina Raffaghello Milano Gallery and she was cordial enough to share valuable insights into her craft that will inevitably translate themselves into mine. Coincidentally, we both also had blue hair at the time.
For good reason, The Photography Show, has predated many art fair fads and continues to be "the longest running and foremost exhibition devoted to photography." We are counting the shutter snaps between now and the 2018 AIPAD event.
© Los Bandidos del Arte, LLC. 2017. Images & Text.