Paris Photo 2009 Spotlight on Arab and Iranian photography

Les femmes du Maroc: Harem Beauty #2, 2008 © Lalla Essaydi, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Paris Photo, November 19-22, 2009
Posted by Lens Culture Magazine

In all, 102 exhibitors (89 galleries and 13 publishers from 23 countries) will participate at the Carrousel du Louvre from 19th to 22nd November in Paris France. The emphasis in 2009 is on photography from Iran and the Arab world. But, as always, the works on display are rich with diversity — geographically, culturally, stylistically — and offer a unique opportunity to discover a wide range of contemporary and vintage photography never seen before in one location.

Paris Photo is the largest and perhaps most important international photography art fair in the world. This year promises to be provocative, inspiring, eclectic, and — due to the sheer volume of imagery — quite possibly visually overwhelming. So, we’re pleased to present here a preview selection of 167 images to whet your appetite.

Guillaume Piens, who organizes the fair, talked about the decision to focus on Arab and Iranian photography:

“Since the turn of the new century, photography has become the dominant medium in the effervescent and very diverse contemporary art scene throughout the Arab countries and in Iran.

It’s worth noting that, contrary to what is often assumed, there is a real fascination in the Arab countries and Iran for the photographic image, and that the relationship with this medium goes back a long way.

Europeans started to photograph the “biblical lands” as early as the 1840s. Photography studios soon opened in Cairo, Beirut and Baghdad, largely run by Armenians who widely contributed to the spread of the practice throughout the region. In Iran, Nasser Al-Din Shah, who reigned from 1848 to 1896, became passionate about photography. He imported equipment and began to practice this new art himself. He even created a gallery in a wing of his palace in Tehran, the Golestan, to display his collection.”

The special exhibitions about Arab and Iranian photography were curated by Catherine David, (Director of Documenta X at Kassel in 1997 and the author of numerous exhibitions and publications on Arab contemporary art). The special exhibitions include a selection of rare images from the collection of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut; an overview of emerging talent from eight galleries in the Arab world, including Iran; and a program of video screenings, which testify to the growing interest among artists of the region for the dynamics of this medium.

We hope you enjoy our preview picks. If you have a high-speed connection, you will love our high-resolution slideshow. (Give it a minute or two to load up — it will start automatically).

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