Paris Photo 2023

The traditional yearly Paris Photo fair, dedicated to the art of photography, took place in Paris from November 9th to 12th, 2023. With a rich history dating back to 1997, this event has found its esteemed venue at the Grand Palais in the heart of Paris since 2011, marking each passing year with a celebration of photographic brilliance..
Since then, an integral facet of the fair has been the initiation of a public program. In 2012, the prestigious Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards were established, dedicated to acknowledging the profound impact of photobooks on the evolution of photography as an art form. This accolade has evolved into a significant benchmark for photographers and publishers worldwide. In 2023, the coveted awards in three categories were bestowed upon Carla Williams for the project "Tender," Vince Aletti for the project "The Drawer," and the collaborative effort "The Public Life of Women: A Feminist Memory Project" by Diwas Raja Kc, NayanTara, and Gurung Kakshapati.

In 2023, the Paris Photo fair unfolded at the Grand Palais Éphémère, a temporary pavilion situated at the base of the Eiffel Tower, given that the primary Grand Palais structure is undergoing restoration.
Paris Photo encompasses various segments, comprising a central section housing both group and individual exhibitions, thematic projects, a Curiosa section spotlighting the works of emerging photographers, and a dedicated space for publishers showcasing photo books and albums. In 2023, an innovative addition surfaced—a section exclusively devoted to photography in the digital era. Spearheaded by digital art connoisseur and co-founder of the Roehrs & Boetsch digital art gallery, Nina Roehrs, this sector showcased the collaborative efforts of nine contemporary art galleries and art platforms. These exhibitions featured the endeavors of artists seamlessly incorporating diverse digital realities into their creative projects.
Boris Eldagsen «The Electrician»
Certainly, akin to any global contemporary art exposition, Paris Photo 2023 encountered a moment of public unease. In April 2022, the work "The Electrician" by German photographer Boris Eldagsen won the Sony World Photography Awards in the creative category. Yet, the artist purposefully withheld a crucial detail from the jury committee— this photograph was created with the help of Artificial intelligence. After publicly disclosing this revelation post the award announcement, Eldagsen declined the prize, elucidating that he aimed to see the discernment of the jury through this unconventional test..

So this very same "photograph" made its appearance at Paris Photo, showcased at the Photo Edition Berlin booth within the digital photography section, with a remarkable price tag of 20,000 euros for each of the 10 signed copies released. Naturally, this scenario sparked extensive discussions, delving into matters not just confined to copyright concerns but also raising the prospect that the sale of such works could inundate the market with a plethora of artificially generated "documentary" photography.
Within the photography community, there exists a divergence of opinions concerning AI work: some argue that they shouldn't be considered on par with traditional photography, while others, such as Nina Roehrs, advocate for affording these images a second consideration. Another point of contention revolves around whether the pricing of these works is justified, both monetarily and in terms of aesthetic value. As Boris Eldagsen remarked on the entire situation through his social media, it's quite likely that "next year they (Sony World Photography Awards) will simply receive a flood of applications with AI images in all documentary award categories!"
Furthermore, Paris Photo 2023 stood out for its extensive display of photographic classics. Within the main section, one could encounter pieces by the Soviet artist El Lissitzky and the Hungarian avant-garde figure Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, while San Francisco galleries showcased the works of Nan Goldin and Diane Arbus. A California gallery featured the project "Displacement et What Remains" by Krista Svalbonas, delving into the history and culture of the Baltic population who sought refuge in post-war Europe. This series of works predominantly centers on images of houses, adorned with folk patterns and laser-etched archival letters from that era.

Another noteworthy highlight was the initiative by the Tokyo publishing house Bookshop M, showcasing the works of Japanese photographer Daido Moriama from the "The Tokyo Toilet" series. Originating in 2018, the project focuses on innovative designs for 17 public toilets in the Shibuya area of Tokyo. Collaborating with 16 globally acclaimed architects, the photographer aimed to dispel the negative stereotypes surrounding public toilets, often perceived as dark, unclean, and even intimidating. The project gained rapid traction on social media and earned recognition, including the Festival international de la créativité de Cannes award for creating novel urban tourist points of interest.
The 2023 edition of the Paris Photo fair marked its final showcase at the Grand Palais Éphémère. These temporary pavilions are slated for disassembly shortly after the conclusion of the 2024 Olympic Games, paving the way for Paris Photo to reclaim its venue within the renovated and historic Grand Palais. Anticipating the upcoming year, we eagerly await the opportunity to explore fresh exhibitions and spaces, continuing our deep dive into the realms of photography and contemporary art, and eagerly sharing the experiences with you!

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