“interview”

Springtime for contemporary African art?

Africa has been rousing huge interest on the international art market for some time now. As the AKAA, a Parisian fair for contemporary African art and design fair opens, Art Media Agency has turned its gaze to events related to the African art scene. A panorama. 17,000 visitors gathering just to see African art! As a reference name in contemporary African art, the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair attracted 40 galleries representing 18 countries to its third edition, held in October 2016 in London. In terms of sales, the edition can also be considered a success. In particular, a record price of about €337,000 was recorded for a work by Caribbean artist Zak Ové. “This is an encouraging reflection of the growing popularity of contemporary African art,” observes the fair’s founder, Touria El Glaoui. In Paris, where African-themed events and exhibitions have multiplied in the last two years, a new contemporary African art fair has just emerged. Called Also Known As Africa, this first contemporary African art and design fair to be organised in France presents around thirty galleries, about half of which hail from Africa. Time will tell whether AKAA will reach the same scale as 1:54. For now, its founder, young French-American Victoria Mann expresses modest hopes of welcoming between 5,000 and 8,000 visitors. The burgeoning of the contemporary African art market can also be seen in the rise in the number of other fairs turning their attention to Africa, for example this year’s Armory Show in New York or else the 2017 Art Paris Art Fair. Despite the continent popping up everywhere in this way, the number of fairs which concentrate solely on contemporary African art remains limited. And let’s remember that the biggest international contemporary-art fairs don’t always pay much attention to Africa. Until 2015,...

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Bourgeois-Wiesner, a photo duo

Florence Bourgeois is director of the Paris Photo fair and Christoph Wiesner, its artistic director. Here, they reveal their own tastes in photography, and discuss the evolution of the market for a medium that has not ceased to win over collectors.   Amongst the many proposals of the galleries exhibiting at Paris Photo, which ones stand out for you? Christoph Wiesner: The Prismes sector reveals some fascinating projects, namely that of Anthony Hernandez, a very great American photographer who immortalised the city of Los Angeles in the 1970s. Douglas Gordon has also done some original work for this section dedicated to large formats and series, which I like in particular, not forgetting the 153 galleries welcomed under the nave of the Grand Palais and our other projects. Florence Bourgeois: What’s interesting about Paris Photo is that it covers over 150 years of photography, but I admit that I’m particularly interested in the work of young artists, for example Noémie Goudal, represented by the gallery Les Filles du Calvaire, or Thibaut Brunet and Mustapha Azeroual, from the gallery Binôme, not forgetting Thomas Mailaender, represented by Roman Road, who reworks old techniques such as cyanotype. Because a new trend emerging in this digital era: photography is rekindling its ties with matter! Christoph Wiesner: We are going to unveil some very beautiful solos featuring major historic American photographers such as Danny Lyon at the Etherton Gallery, showing bikers form the 1960s, or Paul Fusco at Danziger, who filmed Bobby Kennedy’s funeral procession.   Quite a number of galleries are showing American photography, probably because of the elections… Globally speaking, do you think that photography remains a medium that follows the news? Christoph Wiesner: Photojournalism is not greatly represented even if we can place the images by Paul Fusco in this category. This...

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Photos in focus

Over a period of one week, Paris is snapping to the rhythm of photos, historic, vintage or artistic… No way to escape them as the city fills with exhibitions, sales, specialised fairs. A close up on a universal medium! For several years already, Paris Photo has been rocked by a hive of satellite events around the capital. The fair long attempted to channel them in order to avoid competition and a scattering of its public. Today, it is perfectly at ease with them. Indeed, taking advantage of the diversity of its forms, it is even flirting with practices and proposals close to contemporary art in order to attract new publics. This year, thanks to a quirk in the calendar, Paris Photo benefits from a long weekend that helps it to draw photo lovers from afar to enjoy a photographic stay in Paris. So the public is expected to not deprive itself but instead to turn up. Mourning the Paris attacks last year, Paris Photo had to close prematurely in 2015, cutting short any speculations and conclusions on the evolution of the market and collector behaviour. Photo London, for its second edition at Somerset House in May 2016, offered a fairly similar programme to that of its French rival. Galleries present at the 2015 Paris Photo naturally turned up at the British capital to make up for the shortfall due to the early closing of the French event. One might have imagined that sales would be put off… But this was not the case. Overview and proposals Stage one: the Salon de la Photo at the Porte de Versailles. A must for photo amateurs and professionals looking for telephoto lenses of all sizes. Here we find them stocking up on technological innovations and dreaming of an artistic future in the...

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Rolf Hoff: Contemporary art, beyond the polar circle

Norwegian collectors Rolf and Venke Hoff weren’t obvious candidates for opening an art centre. But in 2006, they went ahead and did it anyway. Falling in love with the Lofoten Islands, they chose this archipelago as the site for their KaviarFactory. Rolf Hoff and his wife Venke work in the field of industrial signage. Rolf started by collecting antiques before turning to the works of contemporary artists. Today, his collection counts over 800 pieces, all conserved in the art centre that Venke directs on the Lofoten Islands, where the couple has set up one exhibition per year since 2006. Rolf and Venke Hoff are showing, until 3 December in Paris, at the Fondation Hippocrène, in the former studio of architect Robert Mallet-Stevens, part of their collection, namely 25 artists primarily representing the Nordic contemporary scene. The exhibition is called “Expanding Frontiers”. When did you start collecting? I’ve always collected things since childhood. My astrological sign is Cancer, and all Cancers collect, even boxes, because it’s good to fill boxes! I was probably born a collector! I started with antiquities, but I stopped: it became too expensive and there’s so much racket around these works… We can no longer trust people, dealers have done too much harm to this market. We’re no longer really sure about where something comes from, whether pieces have been stolen or otherwise… What type of antiques did you collect? Most of the time I collected Norwegian antiquities. Norway is a very cold country which was also once very poor. The natives had the custom of sitting around a fire and making objects and painting them. When you go to Oslo, you’re really dazzled by the quality of engravings, sculptures and paintings. In the end, a little by chance, I started collecting Spanish sculptures from the...

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Tino Sehgal, artist of the ephemeral

Powerful body language, flirtation with immateriality… Tino Sehgal has exercised a complex creative practice for twenty years or so. His “constructed situations”, at the Palais de Tokyo until 18 December, raise one crucial question: what if the artist reinvented the meeting between the work and the spectator? Iconoclastic in how he shows and circulates his work, Tino Sehgal places a focus on artistic language that overturns the archetype of contemporary production. Existing purely over the time of a choreography, a sketch, sometimes a movement, the work of this forty-something from London who lives in Berlin reveals a resolutely dematerialised perception of art. Art which he challenges by elusiveness, raised in the paroxysm of performance; but also art which he sets apart from a standardised art market. For Tino Sehgal transmits his works with “no written set of instructions, no bill of sale (purchases are conducted orally, in the presence of a notary), no catalogue, […] no pictures” (source: New York Times, 25/11/2007). This omnipresent immateriality is matched by an obviously ephemeral dimension, which has managed to seduce the greatest institutions. In 2005, he was the youngest artist to represent Germany at the Venice Biennale. Two years later, he carried out his first in situ museum performance across the Atlantic, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago with Kiss: the artist used two dancers to cite the poses in famous artworks, from Klimt to Jeff Koons, via Brancusi. Ever since, he has multiplied solo shows all over Europe — in London, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Porto… — and his artistic concept has not ceased to surprise spectators. Activating the memory Grasping the works of Tino Sehgal is firstly a matter of activating one’s memory in order to catch hold of them. Founded on a space-time prism corresponding to the time of...

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