Visual Culture

10 Must-See Artists at AIPAD’s Photography Show

Images culled from three centuries of world history are now on view at The Photography Show, presented by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD). Located at Pier 94, this year’s iteration features works from an 1851 photograph of the Temple of Jupiter in Pompeii (on view at Gary Edwards Gallery’s booth) to a 2017 print that went viral thanks to a New Yorker story (’s Kiss). 96 galleries are present, and many are boasting rosters of legendary names—from and to and , many of the medium’s most famous practitioners are present. Yet the fair is also a goldmine for fairgoers eager for something new. Below, we’ve rounded up 10 contemporary photographers to check out while you roam the aisles. Their practices are rooted in both fantasy and social engagement, their concerns ranging from the female body to upstate New York car washes.

In Jocelyn Lee’s The Bath (2016)—part of her series “The Appearance of Things”—it’s not the female bather’s body that’s in focus, as may be expected. Instead, the woman’s fabulous, full mane of red hair is at the center of the image, in brilliant contrast to the teal tub. The photographer offers an ethereal, delicate riff on the age-old trope of the female nude. “It’s all about what it means to be living in a body,” said a representative from Huxley-Parlour Gallery, which recently began representing her in London (in New York, she’s represented by Pace/MacGill). “They’re really visceral and textural.”

In a selection of three photographs, Ethiopian photographer Aïda Muluneh captures women with painted faces against bright, -esque backdrops. Captive Conscience—Part One (2017) features a woman with a black afro and frock. Her face is painted white with black lines; bars behind her head suggest a prison outfit. The image raises questions about race, challenging the viewer’s understanding of “black” and “white”: the way we describe skin color is as much a fiction as the stark, nearly surreal image. Muluneh’s work is also spotlighted in the latest iteration of the Museum of Modern Art’s influential “New Photography” survey.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a little New Yorker story called “Cat Person.” In December, Kristen Roupenian’s meditation on bad sex, the dangers of text message-based relationships, and (supposed) cat ownership went viral. The author nabbed a seven-figure book deal. Readers were moved by the story, but the image that accompanied it was equally evocative. That work hangs here. Shot as a commission by Israeli photographer Elinor Carucci, Kiss depicts a discomfiting close-up of the moment preceding a smooch. The subjects are a real-life couple. “I tried to get them to kiss in some different ways, trying for those to reflect their relationship,” Carucci told Artsy. She attempted to “bring them back to good and bad moments and situations from their years together, inspire them to ‘perform themselves’ to me the wide spectrum of their days, kisses, and situations.”

The Photography Show marks Polish photographer Paweł Żak’s first New York exhibition. His surreal, eerily pristine still lifes mostly feature random objects such as bread crumbs or wood, sitting atop or hovering above a neatly clothed table. Żak’s specific setups begin as images in his mind. He quickly sketches a drawing. “It’s at first like a dream. If you don’t write it down fast, then it disappears,” he told Artsy. His sketches gradually become more precise, and then he gathers his objects.
Yet surprises still occur throughout the photographic process. He recalls a shot for which he knew he wanted a large rock. Once he purchased one from a garden shop and set it on the table, he realized it resembled a loaf of bread. It adopted new associations as he completed the process. For another image, he took shot after shot until he captured the exact moment he wanted: two pink balloons hovering at the same level above the table. Untitled #10-22 (2010), he says, came from anger and hunger. He was frustrated at his attempt to photograph pears and ended up trashing the whole setup. In the final image, the tablecloth is wrinkled, the pears on top ruined.

The Hudson Valley-based artist Mark Lyon captures empty car washes from the inside. The jarring perspective, consistent across his “Bay Views” series, leaves the viewer glimpsing out at a perfectly square vision of the real world, glimpsed as though from inside a tunnel. Depending on the time of day, the light creates shadows and reflections in shapes that complicate the composition. Devoid of cars, cleaning supplies, and human attendants, the settings take on a strange, lonely character.

Steven Kasher Gallery

In her new “Fortia” series, Angolan photographer Keyezua honors the memory of her late father, a double amputee as a result of diabetes: She commissions other disabled men to create the masks that the female characters wear in her photographs. The masks become part of their identities, suggesting the beauty and strength that can emerge from challenging physical circumstances. The bright, craggy landscapes in the background, according to the gallery, allude to a primordial setting.

Cortis & Sonderegger, Making of “The Red Ceiling” (by William Eggleston, 1973), 2016. Courtesy of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.

Cortis & Sonderegger, Making of “The Red Ceiling” (by William Eggleston, 1973), 2016. Courtesy of Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.

This Swiss duo, comprised of Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger, reconstructs the scenes of iconic images from photographic history. At AIPAD, their prints pay homage to works including The Falling Soldier (1936) by and The Red Ceiling (1973) by . The pair can spend weeks on each intricate staging and always offer sly allusions to their process. Their fallen soldier clearly rests not on a battlefield, as in the original, but on a table in the middle of a messy studio. They imagine an alternate room for the red ceiling of Eggleston’s original, replete with a trash-filled floor. Cortis & Sonderegger’s labor-intensive studio process becomes the subject of the photographs, distinguishing them from their predecessors—like Capa, who relied on capturing the right shot, in the moment, out in the world.

Gohar Dashti, Home, 2017. Courtesy of Robert Klein Gallery.

Gohar Dashti, Home, 2017. Courtesy of Robert Klein Gallery.

In her “Home” series, Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti shoots the interiors of houses that once belonged to people loyal to the Shah, who was forced from power in 1979. (The new government, the Revolutionary Guard, now owns the structures.) “She petitioned for access and brought in all of the foliage that you see. It represents different regions of Iran,” gallerist Robert Klein explained. Grasses, trees, and vines flood the empty buildings, inserting life into spaces that proved inhospitable to their former occupants.

Robert Koch Gallery

Ljubodrag Andric, Pingyao 7, 2017. Courtesy of Robert Koch Gallery.

Ljubodrag Andric, Pingyao 7, 2017. Courtesy of Robert Koch Gallery.

Viewers might, at first, mistake Yugoslavian photographer Ljubodrag Andric’s quiet, intricate landscapes for abstract paintings. Walls and patches of sky appear as stripes. A roof becomes a series of dots. Pingyao 7 (2017) features a white circle painted on a black brick wall. There’s little sense of setting or a world beyond the houses and walls themselves. The photographs explore texture, color, and shade, leaving you with the conviction that you, too, could find such painterly details in the world if you just looked a little closer.

Huxley-Parlour Gallery

Chengdu-based Zhang Kechun takes washed-out, hazy photographs of the Chinese landscape. Pollution accounts for the foggy ambiance, as poor air quality becomes nearly romantic under his lens. “He kind of embraced the environmental issues,” said a gallery representative, who notes that he shot his “Yellow River” series while riding along the eponymous body of water (the third longest river in Asia) on a bicycle. When people appear, they’re dwarfed by ruins and half-built structures.  
Alina Cohen