Tag Archives: PhotoFairs/San Francisco

PhotoFairs: Pictures Tell a Tale

PhotoFairs returned to San Francisco, February 22 – 24. The vast exhibition at San Francisco’s Fort Mason included works from 40 galleries from 15 countries and 26 cities. With offices in Shanghai, London, and San Francisco, PhotoFairs shows photography and moving image work it considers “cutting edge.” For this viewer, wandering through the almost endless display of photographs, the work that most attracted my attention included images which suggested stories. These were not specific narratives, but the onlooker could imagine, was even invited to imagine, what had happened.

Amikam Toren’s works, Replacing No. 1, 1975(bottom photo) and Replacing No. 2, 1975 (top) engaged my eye and thoughts. In each photograph, on the left there are broken pieces and on the right there is an object that has been made by putting the pieces together. One sees the cracks in the “finished” product and also some flaws which might mean that a piece is missing. Why was it broken? Why was it mended? Is the broken thing still the same thing it was before it was broken?

Replacing No. 1, 1975, Amikam Toren

Replacing No. 2, 1975, Amikam Toren

In these closer views does the title “Replacing,” mean that all the pieces have been put back in  place or that the broken thing now replaces what was once whole? Can Humpty Dumpty be put together again and still be what he was?

Robert Mapplethorpe’s work, Apartment Windows, 1977, invites as many stories as there are windows; actually, there are more possibilities than windows.

Apartment Windows, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1977.

Some windows are open, others completely closed. Some have just the drapes pulled together, some have shades and drapes. What is happening on the other side of the windows? The various approaches to open, closed, covered, partly covered invites speculation about the stories within each apartment. Who closed the drapes or pulled the shades all the way or part of the way down? Why was the choice made to cover the window rather than leave it open? When the window is open, it’s not just that someone outside could look in, but also that someone inside could look out.

Tang Feng Gallery of Miaoli City, Taiwan, presented photographs by two artists, one working in classic black and white and the other in color in a smaller format. The images are evocative, seemingly straightforward, suggestive of mystery. A man sits in a decorated cart; a pedicab driver, he is taking time to relax.  The photographer captures the moment from above, showing the man momentarily at rest.

The Native Gaze 0005, by Chang-Ling, 2016The Native Gaze 0006, by Chang-Ling, 2016

In Chang-Ling’s The Native Gaze 0006, something photographic is happening. A young woman turns to talk with someone we don’t see. Everyone else is focused on something happening beneath the arc of balloons. Its intense color, the light coming from at least three different sources, and the young woman looking a different way play with the onlooker’s ability to know what is happening.

The Old Man and the House He Built, 2014, Wei-ming Yuan

In The Old Man and the House He Built, the Old Man walks past a house that appears to be built of mismatched materials. How did he build something that could stay standing with these objects? There is a story behind that house, that man, and the equally old dog which might be following him. The onlooker cannot know the whole story or all the stories, but it is fascinating to wonder about it.

Tai Chi, by Wei-ming Yuan, 2005

The artist also shows images which become nearly abstract due to his closeness to the subject or the movement in the subject. In Tai Chi, he looks up through the rock of a slot canyon in the American West.

These selections are not the most “experimental” of the works shown, but they held my interest for the stories they might tell.

Photographs of the photographs by Jonathan Clark, Mountain View, CA

See www.livelyfoundation.org/wordpress/?s=photofairs  Hedgehog Highlights article about PhotoFairs, January 29, 2017

Notes on photos: Amikam Toren (Israeli, b. 1945), Replacing No. 1, 1975; Replacing No. 2, 1975;  Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1948-1989), Apartment Windows, 1977; Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Estate; Weinstein Hammons Gallery, Minneapolis; Chang-Ling (Taiwan, 1975) and Wei-ming Yuan (China, 1948), Tang Feng Gallery, Miaoli City, Taiwan.




PHOTOFAIRS/San Francisco: International Photos at Ft. Mason

 FuscoFlagAn exciting new photography event opened in San Francisco, June 26, and runs through Sunday, the 29th, at the Festival Pavilion, Ft. Mason Center. Sunday’s hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12-$15. Anyone curious about what’s happening in the world of photography around the world will find much to think about, and art lovers enjoying the Marina on a Sunday afternoon will also find a lot of interest. PhotoFairs opened first in Shanghai, September, 2016. San Francisco is its choice for the American venue. It features galleries from fourteen countries, twenty-two cities, and says it presents “cutting edge contemporary photography on a global scale.” Its artist selection focuses on those “never before seen in the Bay Area” as well as some West Coast artists.


Paul Fusco’s photographs from the train carrying Bobby Kennedy’s body to Washington, D.C. for burial in Arlington Cemetery, June 8, 1968, made an arresting and engrossing series of 21 images selected from a vast archive of these pictures. Some thousand of them had been in the Library of Congress. Fusco stood on the train and continually snapped the pictures capturing the emotions of endless lines of Americans watching, saying good-bye. The boy displaying the flag of his country, shown above, is a detail of one of the photographs. Danziger Gallery also has a set of these photos available in a book or sold individually.

   Mali#2The work of Seydou Keita, photographer from Mali, showed a group of nine small photos framed separately in one large display frame. They resemble family photos without any obvious event that would have brought the individual pictures together. The individuals pose with serious faces. There is a man with two children. A little boy leans into the man’s shoulder; the little girl’s right hand is tucked under the man’s wrist in a touching connection. A woman in elegant dress is posed on a settee. The onlooker is peering into life somewhere else; it is hard to turn away from these people one is meeting without having met.

   The Fall (VU à Paris)  The motion in Denis Darzacq’s photographs La Chute #15 and La Chute #2 (pictured here) catches one’s eye from across the hall. La Chute means The Fall. The French photographer went to Parisian neighborhoods where, in 2005, there had been riots. He captured young residents of the banlieus doing acrobatic feats and breakdancing in the streets. Suspended in an arc in the moment of the photograph, the man could be falling from a very great, mysterious height as much as performing an energetic dance in an otherwise deserted place. One cannot see the tops of the buildings; it’s impossible to know from what heaven, Eden, or twentieth story he might have fallen.

It adds up to a wonderland of imagery to wander through. The journey through the Festival Pavilion, situated right on the Bay, is rewarded by a cafe with places to sit and review the sensory impact with lunch or a drink. For this viewer, many of the “new” approaches to photography were not totally new, but for this viewer being totally new is not always a value in itself. The chosen theme for a central exhibit was that the photographs had been altered in some way so that they were no longer, you know, just photographs. An artist might puncture the image, glue other objects onto it, or combine it with other media.

In addition to the exhibitions, PhotoFairs scheduled public programs, panels and artist talks. For more information, see www.photofairs.org. For online tickets: www.photofairs.org/sanfrancisco/visitor. PhotoFairs will return to Shanghai and San Francisco, Sept. 2017, and Jan. 2018. Picture of lady reaching toward the train is a detail from Paul Fusco’s photographs; picture of man with two children is a detail of Seydou Keita’s pictures. Pictures shown here may not be reproduced or used for personal or professional/commercial purposes. They are the property of the galleries and artists. Picture of La Chute #2 is courtesy De Soto Gallery, Venice, CA. Seydou Keita’s work is represented by Danziger Gallery. Paul Fusco’s work is also represented by Danziger Gallery, New York.