This month is the traditional month of photography in Paris and I sought to indulge myself. I first went to the Bibliotheque Forney for a show called “Voyage en Couleur.”
This is largely stuff from 1888-1900 and is amazingly similar; whether the Parthenon or Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, every photo has a brilliant, unclouded, blue sky backdrop. Is this the way the photographers thought these monuments should look or was the curator giving us a subtle message that the times “they are a changin’?” The show is still, despite its sameness, quite wonderful.
Then because I needed to burn off all that foie gras, I went to the MEP: Maison Europeene de la Photographie, where there were six, count ‘em, six, shows. Now, this is one of my favorite places in Paris and I always find things here that I like and dislike.
Today was no exception. Since my Mother could be reading this from where she is in the hereafter, I’ll start with the good. Minot and Gormezano’s photos of (supposedly) gorges, streams and paths are mysterious and foggy and evocative, a solid 10.
And Robert Combis’s fantastic compositions are his own, despite echoes of Red Grooms and Keith Haring.
The “American Dream,” whose come-on poster of one of 250 antique American post cards is that of a charming old black guy, turns out to be so stereotypic of what French intellectuals think America was like in the 1900-1930 era that I was stunned (If it were contemporary, one would assume we’re all George Bush, Bernie Madoff or Fruit Loops). Luckily, besides that of the black guy, there’s also one of immigrant bakers that’s equally touching.
Francois Rousseau’s cliches, though, whether of nude pregnant white women or black or white or in-between, tattooed or not, men and men, men and women, etc, etc, etc, are like those from the National Geographic, circa 1950, run amok.
And finally, Giorgia Floria’s work (at least here) reciprocates the stereotypic views of Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.
(Miguel Angel Rios’s AQUI is forgettable; I’ve already erased the short and long term traces).