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What’s New in Photography? Humanism, MoMA Says

A new group show called “Being” moves away from last year’s navel-gazing digital obsession to explore reality-based portraiture, politics and gender.

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At the last survey of new photography at the Museum of Modern Art two years ago, the atmosphere was so self-referential and hermetic that a visitor panted for oxygen. Often, the photos were images of images, taken off a computer screen or digitally created in the studio. It seemed as if photography, which continued to engage with the world after modernist painting and literature turned inward, had finally crumpled into solipsism.

A lot can change in two years. In response to the last exhibition and to the intervening political upheavals, the show “Being: New Photography 2018,” which opens on March 18, offers a broader and more stimulating range of work. The rubric of “Being,” which is defined as “notions of personhood and identity,” proves capacious enough to include portraiture, reportage, fashion, and pretty much everything you can turn a camera on. (The museum decided in 2016 to present exhibitions with a theme rather than simply highlighting promising photographers.) The show includes the work of 17 artists — two of whom collaborate as a team — all under 45.

The exhibition was orchestrated by Lucy Gallun, MoMA’s assistant curator of photography, who worked on the last one and agrees that this year’s represents a departure. “The strongest takeaway from the last show was about the dissemination of images and the way images circulate,” she said in a phone interview. “Here it’s a much more personal, intimate approach.” She added that she “tried to emphasize the diversity of approaches.” A sampling of artists included indicates she succeeded in that.

Although questions of racial and gender identity and politics perfume the air, the best photography in the show touches lightly, if at all, on these subjects. One artist who squarely addresses the political predicament is Stephanie Syjuco, 43, a Bay Area resident who was born in the Philippines and immigrated to this country when she was 3. Ms. Syjuco employs diverse formats — installations, performance and photography — to investigate such subjects as the distribution of goods under capitalism and the persistence of neocolonialism.

Her large black-and-white photographs, in which she appears in costume, bring to mind the work of the Samoan-born photographer Shigeyuki Kihara, who also stages self-portraits in the pose of native women in the Pacific islands, reprising how they were depicted in studios decorated with ethnic props by 19th-century photographers.

Unlike Ms. Kihara, who is particularly interested in gender, Ms. Syjuco is more concerned with capitalist commodities, and is a student of how Western manufacturers both appropriated and created “primitive” designs.

She purchased all the ethnic materials that she wears in her photographs at chain stores in a mall in Omaha, where she was living at the time. The clothes conspicuously retain store labels. (She returned them for credit after the shoots.)

Stephanie Syjuco, “Cargo Cults: Java Bunny,” 2013-16; pigmented inkjet print. Like the fabrics, purchased at a mall, the backdrops in her photographs are patterned, inspired by camouflage on British warships “to make it unclear what you are looking at,” she said.CreditCourtesy the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco and Ryan Lee Gallery, New York.

Like the fabrics, the backdrops in the photographs are intensely patterned, in the manner of the “dazzle camouflage” painted on British warships as protection from airplane bombers during World War I. “It was used not to hide the battleships but to confuse enemy aim by making it unclear what you are looking at,” she explained in a phone interview.

In addition to the portraits, which come from a series she calls “Cargo Cult,” Ms. Syjuco has included in the exhibition a series of passport-style self-portraits (taken with her cellphone) with her face obscured, alluding to the anxiety presently felt in immigrant communities in this country.


Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s “Mirror Study (4R2A0857),” a pigmented inkjet print from 2016, at the Museum of Modern Art. A postmodern portraitist, he reshuffles real material rather than composes on Photoshop. “I’m interested when someone can piece together another layer of meaning from a fragment of a body or the location of a room.”CreditPaul Mpagi Sepuya

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, 35, also critiques photography portraiture, from a vantage point that is more formally inventive and politically oblique than Ms. Syjuco’s. Black and gay, with an interest in investigating his racial and sexual identities, Mr. Sepuya uses collages and mirror shards to fragment the image; and he raises out of their customary invisibility the black cloths and tripods of a photographer’s studio. His photographs were included in the recent “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” at the New Museum and the current “Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

Along with large inkjet prints on the wall, in the MoMA show he has a table with found objects, both photographs and books, to provide context (a presentation style associated with Wolfgang Tillmans). Mr. Sepuya is a postmodern portrait photographer, but one who chooses to reshuffle real material rather than compose on Photoshop. “There’s a codedness,” he said, describing his work. “I’m interested when someone can piece together another layer of meaning from a fragment of a body or the location of a room.”

And he relates his formal strategy to his sexual orientation. “There is a history of queer social spaces inhabiting the back room,” he said. “In these darkroom portraits, I’m thinking that being under the black cloth is like being in the back room.” It is a space “of creative friendship and sexual exchange all happening in the same places.”


From “Being: New Photography 2018,” Andrzej Steinbach’s “Untitled from the series Gesellschaft beginnt mit drei,” 2017, keeps you guessing about what’s not seen. Inkjet print.CreditAndrzej Steinbach

Although photographers have always been acutely conscious of what lies just outside the edges of their pictures, the viewer may overlook this central fact. Mr. Sepuya is not alone in wanting to highlight what usually goes unseen. Andrzej Steinbach, 34, a Polish-born photographer based in Berlin, photographed three young people together, as if in a fashion shoot, and then displayed the portraits as a sequence, where a person who is mostly out of the frame in one picture becomes the central figure in the next. “They switch places and they switch clothing,” Ms. Gallun said. “It’s unsettling.”

Matthew Connors, 42, likens his position as a photographer to the unreliable narrator in contemporary fiction. The body of work he is showing comes from five trips he made to North Korea between 2013 and 2016. Earlier, he took pictures in Egypt during the street demonstrations that culminated in the fall of President Mohamed Morsi. If that job description makes him sound like a photojournalist, he quickly dispels the notion. “I would be a terrible photojournalist, because I’m very slow and I’m not always training myself on the event that’s unfolding,” he said.


Matthew Connors, “Pyongyang X.” In North Korea, he shot electronic billboards in which the image — like the truth — is incomplete. Credit Matthew Connors

In many of his photographs of North Korea, where he was invariably accompanied by a couple of handlers, he emphasizes how partial his images are. He photographs electronic billboards in which the image is incomplete because some of the lights are out. He depicts a dark cave decorated for tourists with projected patches of colored lights — a stand-in for the cave in Plato’s allegory, where only the shadows of outside life are visible to those chained within. Both the photographer and his subjects see each other indistinctly, a fact that the sharpness of Mr. Connors’s digital images doesn’t deny.

We are a long way from MoMA’s most famous photography exhibition, Edward Steichen’s “The Family of Man” of 1955, which presented people from all around the world as being more alike than not. Some of the most striking of Mr. Connors’s photographs are portraits of North Koreans: three schoolgirls as frozen as waxworks, one young man affectionately touching another at a public swimming pool. The pictures are compelling but resist easy understanding. The emblematic photograph in Mr. Connors’s contribution to the show appears in a print twice the size and separate from the North Korea pictures: a mask held in a fist at a New York anti-Trump rally. Because of the positioning of the tape and the eyeholes, what we see looks like a crude rendition of a face, but it is actually the back of the mask.

Some of Mr. Connors’s images — the geometric reflections in a nighttime swimming pool, the rushing cascades in a water park — are reminders of the pleasures that photography can provide when practiced by a technically skilled artist. Even more daringly retrograde in the embrace of tradition is Sam Contis, 35, who sometimes shoots with film and a vintage view camera (as well as a digital one). She has made repeated visits over the last five years to photograph the students at Deep Springs College, a small, all-male institution in a remote valley in eastern California. The breadth of her ambition is discernible in the exhibition, and even more so in her impressive book, “Deep Springs.”

Sam Contis, “Denim Dress,” 2014; pigmented inkjet print. The photographer dismantles and takes apart “the multiple myths” of the West, recontextualizing them.CreditSam Contis

Yet while her photographs reflect the history of photography, they also examine a very contemporary issue: the development of masculine identity. In Deep Springs, the young men combine ranching and farming with intensive reading. “There is an expectation of what a man is, especially against the backdrop of the West,” she said. “But it’s really much more nuanced than what our visual culture has shown us.”

In the book, she has the room to evoke the myth of the West with photographs of cattle being branded in a cloud of dust and irrigation lines being adjusted in the majestic high desert. Those in her small grouping at MoMA (supplemented by a brand-new two-channel video) dwell on ambiguities of gender and fragile tenderness.

In one, a recumbent figure in a denim skirt in the grass proves, on second glance, to be a boy; a similar double take establishes the gender of a longhaired youth being embraced from behind by a lean-limbed fellow. Some of Ms. Contis’s photographs are presented as matted, silver gelatin prints. They demonstrate, if there was ever any doubt, that old-fashioned photography in the hands of an artist can feel completely up-to-date.

Ms. Contis is informed by the great photographers of the American West, notably Timothy H. O’Sullivan and Carleton Watkins. She is also very aware of the regional mythology, as conjured up and questioned by predecessors like the director John Ford and the artist Richard Prince.

“Part of this project is thinking about this place that is in my mind,” said Ms. Contis, who was born in Pennsylvania and educated in the East. “I’m not so interested in debunking the myth. I’m more interested in dismantling and taking the multiple myths apart and recontextualizing them.”

Sam Contis, “Junction,” 2015; gelatin silver print. Her study of students in Deep Springs, Calif., challenge “an expectation of what a man is,” she says. “It’s really much more nuanced.” Credit Sam Contis

“Part of this project is thinking about this place that is in my mind,” said Ms. Contis, who was born in Pennsylvania and educated in the East. “I’m not so interested in debunking the myth. I’m more interested in dismantling and taking the multiple myths apart and recontextualizing them.”

Yet while her photographs reflect the history of photography, they also examine a very contemporary issue: the development of masculine identity. In Deep Springs, the young men combine ranching and farming with intensive reading. “There is an expectation of what a man is, especially against the backdrop of the West,” she said. “But it’s really much more nuanced than what our visual culture has shown us.”

In the book, she has the room to evoke the myth of the West with photographs of cattle being branded in a cloud of dust and irrigation lines being adjusted in the majestic high desert. Those in her small grouping at MoMA (supplemented by a brand-new two-channel video) dwell on ambiguities of gender and fragile tenderness.

In one, a recumbent figure in a denim skirt in the grass proves, on second glance, to be a boy; a similar double take establishes the gender of a longhaired youth being embraced from behind by a lean-limbed fellow. Some of Ms. Contis’s photographs are presented as matted, silver gelatin prints. They demonstrate, if there was ever any doubt, that old-fashioned photography in the hands of an artist can feel completely up-to-date.

A version of this article appears in print on March 11, 2018, on Page AR17 of the New York edition with the headline: Resurrecting the Intimacy of the Lens. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Artists of Color as Avatars of Originality

Elia Alba reimagines artists of color as A-list celebrities, giving them a place of honor in a mainstream art world that continues to ignore or play down their accomplishments.

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Photographs by Elia Alba

A glamorous woman, dressed in jeans, a shirt and a vest, looks into the camera. Her full-on Afro and styling are retro, a homage, perhaps, to 1970s Blaxploitation stars like Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson. But one telling detail, the high-school yearbook she is holding, reminds us that the image is more than a fashion photograph. The school’s location, Braddock, Pa., is the struggling hometown of the subject, LaToya Ruby Frazier.

Elia Alba photographed Ms. Frazier, an artist, on an ornate staircase at the Braddock Carnegie Library. Ms. Alba thinks the image alludes not to movie stars but to a political figure: Kathleen Cleaver of the Black Panther Party. In this context, the portrait honors Ms. Frazier as the “patron saint of Braddock,” as Ms. Alba calls her — an activist photographer who uses art for social change. In “The Notion of Family,” her 2014 book, for example, Ms. Frazier photographed her own family to document the decline of a once-flourishing steel town and the lives of its residents, largely African-American, beset by poverty, gentrification and discrimination.”The Braddonian (LaToya Ruby Frazier), 2012.”CreditElia Alba

“The Braddonian (LaToya Ruby Frazier), 2012.”CreditElia Alba

“The Explorer (Dawit L. Petros), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The Explorer (Dawit L. Petros), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The American, after Sidibé (Louis Cameron), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The American, after Sidibé (Louis Cameron), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

The photograph is in her new book, “Elia Alba: The Supper Club” (The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation/Hirmer), edited by Sara Reisman with George Bolster and Anjuli Nanda, which documents Ms. Alba’s project, reimagining artists of color as A-list celebrities.

Ms. Alba is influenced by art history, Afro-futurist aesthetics and contemporary media, and her fantasy portraits echo spreads in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaarand other glamour magazines. “Fashion photography is fascinating to me due to its construction of image; the likeness is real time but it’s completely hyper-real with many elements of fantasy,” she said in a recent interview. But Ms. Alba also acknowledged that mainstream publications have historically ignored or marginalized people of color and, still do.

Riffing on Vanity Fair’s “Hollywood Issue,” Ms. Alba assigns artists literary names that describe their philosophy, sensibility or reputation — “The Alchemist,” for example, or “The Oracle”— and photographs them in environments reflective of their art. She designs costumes and either constructs sets or photographs her subjects on location, and she adopts the visual devices of posing and styling common to the publications that inspired her. But her interests transcend fashion.

“These portraits go beyond merely a record of the subject,” she wrote in an artist’s statement, and convey “a deeper meaning or vision of the sitter, through their art.” Arnaldo Morales (“The Machinist”), for example, is posed against the machines and gadgets that inspire his futuristic sculptures. Maren Hassinger (“The Spiritualist”) appears as a dancing Orisha in the forest, echoing her themes of spirituality and nature. And a series of portraits represents artists who challenge conventional notions of masculinity, including Angel Otero (“The Romantic”), whose paintings recast the male body as sensual and vulnerable, and Kalup Linzy (“The Star”), sultry in drag as Marlene Dietrich.”The Dreamweaver (Chitra Ganesh), 2013.”CreditElia Alba

“The Dreamweaver (Chitra Ganesh), 2013.”CreditElia Alba

“The Professor (Hank Willis Thomas), 2014.”CreditElia Alba

“The Professor (Hank Willis Thomas), 2014.”CreditElia Alba

“The Thespian (Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz), 2014.”CreditElia Alba

“The Thespian (Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz), 2014.”CreditElia Alba

Ms. Alba’s project also relates to the history of artists who use other artists as their subjects. At the height of the New York School in the 1950s and 1960s, for example, the photographer Hans Namuth made many such portraits. Much like Ms. Alba, his pictures were stylish and glamorous, displaying a sensibility rooted in his training with Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director of Harper’s Bazaar. Typically depicting his subjects in their studios, Mr. Namuth described his photographic process as akin to “the feeling of being in a theater, of watching and directing.” But his portraits, unlike those of “The Supper Club,” were neither theatrical nor art directed.

While “The Supper Club” both perpetuates and challenges this legacy, it rejects one sensibility inherent to these projects: their view of the art world as largely white. It highlights the accomplishments of contemporary artists of color through work that also reflects the consequential issues engaged by their art. It does so not only through portraits but also a through series of dinners that Ms. Alba hosted — the “supper clubs” of the project’s title — in which artists discussed the social, cultural and aesthetic issues reflected in their work and worldview.

Challenging the cliché of the artist as hermetic and socially insular, these dialogues explored the motivations and intentions of the participants as well as the impact of real-life events and issues on their lives and art. In the end, Ms. Alba’s project — which recasts the artist’s portrait as a complex reflection of artists and their work — underscores the interplay among persona, politics and aesthetics in much contemporary art.

If the typical celebrity portrait aggrandizes its subject, the photographs in “The Supper Club” give artists of color a place of honor in a mainstream art world that continues to ignore, underestimate or play down their accomplishments. They honor these artists on multiple levels: as icons of originality and brilliance, as interpreters of a changing culture and society, and as role models for people long erased from the history of art. In the end, these vibrant portraits represent their subjects not simply as culturally expressive, but also as embodying the potential of a refreshed and relevant cultural world unencumbered by racism.”The Poet (LaTasta N. Nevada Diggs), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The Poet (LaTasta N. Nevada Diggs), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The Star (Kalup Linzy), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The Star (Kalup Linzy), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The Romantic (Angel Otero), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

“The Romantic (Angel Otero), 2015.”CreditElia Alba

Race Stories is a continuing exploration of the relationship between race and photographic depictions of race by Maurice Berger. He is a research professor and chief curator at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This column is an edited excerpt from the author’s essay in “Elia Alba: The Supper Club.”

Follow @nytimesphoto and @MauriceBergeron Twitter. You can also find Lens on Facebook and Instagram.

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They Were Orphaned by the Rwandan Genocide. 25 Years Later, They’re Interviewing the Perpetrators

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BY SUYIN HAYNES  APRIL 6, 2019

When Gadi Habumugisha was 2 years old, he was forced to flee his home in Rwanda with his older sister. It was April 1994, and violence was escalating after the death of the president, as ethnic tensions erupted. Crossing the border to seek safety in refugee camps in the neighboring Congo, the pair were eventually orphaned by the killings.

April 7 marks 25 years since the Rwandan genocide. Over the course of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were killed — most of them members of the minority Tutsi ethnic group killed by the majority Hutu population.

Gadi and his sister’s new lives in Rwanda began at the end of 1994 after the genocide ended, when they returned with the Red Cross to their homeland and came to the Imbabazi Orphanage in the country’s north. Run by Rosamond Carr, an American humanitarian who had lived in Rwanda since 1949, the orphanage was a sanctuary for children who had lost their families as a result of that traumatic summer.

For Gadi, and two other boys, Mussa Uwitonze and Bizimana Jean, the orphanage also became the place where, years later, they first picked up cameras at a photography workshop run by Through the Eyes of Children, an organization founded in 2000 by photographer American David Jiranek. All three boys seized the chance to tell their own stories by taking pictures. It marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for photography.

Now all in their late twenties, the three men are spreading that passion to other vulnerable children, taking on the leadership of Through the Eyes of Children by teaching photography workshops in Rwanda and around the world. Working initially with 19 “camera kids,” the photography workshops for vulnerable children in Rwanda started in 2000, teaching them the basics of lighting, composition and stop-motion among other photography techniques. The photographs made by workshop participants have been exhibited at the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, the United Nations headquarters in New York and at Holocaust museums around the world. “When you give a child a chance to tell their story from their perspective, it tells them they matter, and that their story matters,” says Joanne McKinney, project director at Through the Eyes of Children.Play VideoYOU MIGHT LIKEANASTASE’S STORYZAWADI’S STORY

Documenting scenes of everyday life in the country, the extraordinarily large collection of photographs track the healing and rebuilding of Rwanda in the years after the genocide. “For us orphans, we were able to express ourselves and the world could see our photos, our country and the children of it,” says Mussa Uwitonze, now 28 years old and the father of two girls. The photographs from the workshops did more than show life in Rwanda to international audiences. Proceeds from sales of the images to buyers around the world fed back into Imbabazi, paying for the children’s clothing, food and education. Many of the original Camera Kids have gone on to pursue careers in photography for media, events and non-profit organizations in Rwanda.

Almost 20 years on from their first workshop, and 25 years on from the genocide, Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana are embarking on their own journey, telling their story through different means. They are both the subjects and storytellers of a forthcoming documentary, entitled Camera Kids, in partnership with American filmmaker Beth Murphy, Director of Films for the Groundtruth Project, an international non-profit media organization supporting storytelling and freedom of expression in the United States and developing countries around the world.

The three men have all worked as professional photographers and now lead the Through the Eyes of Children photography workshops. But a few years ago, they realized they were still troubled by lingering questions about their past. “We all had so many questions since our time at the orphanage,” says Mussa. “Who are these people who participated in the genocide? What were they thinking when they were killing people? We decided that it was our time, as photographers and storytellers, to find out the answers from the real people who participated in the genocide.”Play VideoYOU MIGHT LIKEZAWADI’S STORYANGELIQUE’S STORY

These are the questions that Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana seek to answer in the documentary, which follows their reunions with the other original camera kids from Imbabazi Orphanage, which closed in 2014, as well as a three month-long journey through villages across northern Rwanda, interviewing and photographing those responsible for the violence and their families. So far, they have interviewed participants in the genocide and their families, and have the goal of interviewing 100 perpetrators in total. “We want to hear what their stories are and why they were involved,” Gadi says, “but I don’t expect to get a full or satisfactory answer. There is no valid reason that would lead one to kill another. However, talking to these perpetrators and survivors, I can see that eventually there has been some kind of reconciliation.”

Bizimana Abdullah stands at the site where he burned dozens of Tutsis to ashes in 1994 – many of whom were his friends. He is haunted by the fact that not even one bone remained.

Bizimana Abdullah stands at the site where he burned dozens of Tutsis to ashes in 1994 – many of whom were his friends. He is haunted by the fact that not even one bone remained. Jean Bizimana

Murphy, the filmmaker, has been filming Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana for the past three years, with plans to release a feature-length documentary in late 2020. “Making peace with your enemy is one of the most difficult things a person can do, and the story in Rwanda can really be something to emulate,” she tells TIME.

Murphy also says she was struck by some of the parallels in Rwanda with the rise of hate speech back home in the United States. “Some of the language the perpetrators use to explain why they did what they did sounds a lot like some of the language that we’re hearing today, especially from white nationalists in the United States.” Leading up to the 1994 genocide, government-sanctioned propaganda and radio broadcast messages were used to dehumanize the Tutsis and stoke hatred against them. Murphy sees parallels today around the world with the use of the word “invasion,” a phrase used by President Donald Trump to describe the movement of Central American migrants towards the U.S. border. The term “invaders” was also used in the New Zealand shooter’smanifesto before he killed 50 people at a mosque in Christchurch last month. “It’s chilling. And it is leading to violence and death,” Murphy says. “I want this film to be an antidote to hateful ideology and xenophobia.”Play VideoYOU MIGHT LIKEANASTASE’S STORYANGELIQUE’S STORY

Beyond the perpetrator project, Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana are concentrating their efforts on expanding the mission of Through the Eyes of Children worldwide. In the U.S., they have led photography workshops with immigrant Haitian teenagers in New Jersey and foster children in Boston. In May, they plan to visit Haiti for workshops with orphanages, and will be traveling to Lebanon later in the year to share their photography craft with Syrian refugees. “It’s a great feeling to be able to transfer knowledge to kids in difficult conditions like we used to be in,” Gadi tells TIME. “It’s like giving them a medicine to heal them. It’s treating them because we know from experience that because of photography, they will be better people.” The men want to foster a global community of camera kids, united by telling their own stories through photography and fostering empathy with others. “A lot of kids around the world need photography to be able to express themselves, to know lives outside their boxes,” says Mussa.

And in Rwanda, where it all started, photography remains integral to the three men’s lives. Gadi is pursuing a part-time career as a photographer and has worked with several non-profit organizations. Mussa recently left his job as a tour operator to become a full-time photographer, and Bizimana is in his second year as a staff photographer with Reuters Africa. Their determination to share their knowledge of photography with future generations has led to workshops with street children, disabled children, and now —after the ‘Camera Kids’ film project — workshops with the children of both survivors and perpetrators of the genocide. “When we were kids, [Rosamond Carr] used to tell us that we have to share with others what we have,” Bizimana says, reflecting on the legacy of his late foster mother. “This is the heritage she gave us. Giving other kids photography is doing what we promised her.”

Correction, April 6: The original version of this story misstated the start date of the Rwandan genocide. It was April 7, not April 6 as originally stated.

Write to Suyin Haynes at suyin.haynes@time.com.

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AIPAD Relocates

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AIPAD, the world’s longest-running photographic exhibition moved to new Hudson riverfront digs for 2018, hosting 15,000 shutterbugs at Pier 94 – up 25 percent from 12,000 in 2016 at the Park Avenue Armory. This inaugural show for president Kraige Block (day job: Executive Director, Throckmorton Fine Art) saw expansion beyond its attendance, with four new sections (Salon; Gallery; Positions; Discovery) and a cleaner, less convention hall-ish look, via more spacious aisle design, and a cool books section. New projects included portrait-making with the world’s first digital camera; the AIPAD Screening Room, and an outdoor video projection.

DSC_0003; Yokohama Workshop; Sankei-en Garden; Yokohama; Japan; 02/2014; JAPAN-10261. A boat covered in snow, floating in a pond. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 07/15/2015

This year also saw the first bestowment of The AIPAD Award, “to recognize visionaries who have spent their lives at the forefront of the field of photography.” During the annual pre-event vernissage, Sandra Phillips, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, andAnne Wilkes Tucker, founding curator of photography at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, were honored and feted. The Arnold Newman Prize for New Directions in Photographic Portraiture, presented by Maine Media Workshops + College, was awarded to Daniella Zalcman (b. 1986), a documentary photographer based in London and New York. Sophie Barbasch, Daniel Coburn, and Jessica Eve Rattner were finalists.

Over the next four days, visitors comprised of curators, collectors, artists and general enthusiasts were challenged with seeing and hearing as much as possible from 115 galleries from around the world, over a dozen AIPAD talks and a countless number of works, before the circus left town.

On the sales floor, a random query of a few exhibitors found a considerable number of mid-to-upper five-figure sales. Amidst an exuberant assessment of the show’s new site, which he claims, “Truly elevated the fair experience,” Gallerist Bryce Wolkowitz reported selling several Stephen Wilkes pieces ranging $15,000-$35,000, a Jim Campbell for $85,000 and a Robert Currie for $22,500.

Tallying up more than 40 sales and an uptick in first-time buyers, dealer Steven Kasher “Best sales ever for me for any fair.” Yancey Richardson capitalized on institutional sales: “ All the curators attended. We sold across the board: Mickalene Thomas, Zanele Muholi, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, and Olivo Barbieri. It’s been a very good fair for us.”

Vintage work was also in-demand; dealer Hans P. Kraus Jr. of New York, reported an excellent fair with sales of an 1857 Gustave Le Gray and an 1846 Rev. Calvert Richard Jones, both at $60,000. Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago, sold three Sid Grossman Coney Island photographs from 1947-48, and a László Moholy-Nagy photogram. Vasari, Buenos Aires, sold an Annemarie Heinrich print for $15,000, a Grete Stern for $25,000, and an Alicia D’Amico for $7,000.

From sales to loans by way of another first, the 2018 confab struck new curatorial ground, exhibiting three specially-loaned collections courtesy of Martin Margulies, Artur Walther, and Madeleine Plonsker. “Structures of Identity” examined the ways photographers from varied cultures and historical periods have used portraiture to affirm or challenge stereotypes of race, gender, class. “Fifteen Countries” was exactly that, with work by 22 artists from 15 countries. “The Light in Cuban Eyes” chronicles contemporary Cuban photography from when the Soviets left the island in 1992, to the present.

Of course, more than a few celebrities were in attendance: Funnyman Chris Rock, Mad Man Jon Slattery, and legendary documentary lenser Jill Freeman went mostly unnoticed amidst fellow aficionados busied with taking it all in.

As the sun set on the Hudson, capping the final day, the mood among visitors slowly making their way to the exits (present company included) was that 2018 would be remembered as a watershed year for this essential annual experience.

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