Paris Photo 2022

Top six fair highlights

Selected by Alex Merola

Within the Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris Photo 2022 is now underway. This year’s offerings are more diverse and demanding than ever, making it a great litmus test for what is going on in the medium today. Here are six standout displays from the fair’s 25th edition – selected by 1000 Words Assistant Editor, Alex Merola. 

1. Boris Mikhailov, The Theatre of War, Second Act, Time Out
Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve

Paris’ multiple tributes to Boris Mikhailov, in the form of his retrospective at MEP and the haunting presentation of At Dusk at the Bourse de Commerce’s Salon, continue to take on new meanings following Vladimir Putin’s razing over the Ukrainian photographer’s hometown of Kharhiv. Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve’s decision to show The Theatre of War, Second Act, Time Out (2013), a rarely exhibited record of Ukraine’s slide into war, is a strong one. Produced during the wave of pro-European demonstrations in Kyiv’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti, these on-the-ground shots depict life behind the barricades – what the artist refers to as a “stage set”. Indeed, the Stalinist square, after which the movement was named, had been rebuilt in the 1930s as a set piece to glorify – or appeal to the memory of – revolution. But what we find here are the architects of a real revolt, ushering in the transformation of a state both deeply ambitious and tragically incomplete. In this regard, the inclusion of prints from Tea, Coffee, Cappuccino (2000–10), chronicling the colourful, plastic realty of Kharhiv in the era of new capitalism, both reflects and disturbs this story. No photographer has captured the complexity of Ukraine’s post-Soviet psyche as eloquently as Mikhailov, whose aesthetic sublimations have kept him on the inside of history, looking out.

2. Jean-Kenta Gauthier, Real Pictures: An Invitation to Imagine

Offering a sensitive dimension to erasure, memory, imagination et cetera – the themes that underpin Jean-Kenta Gauthier’s booth, which feels more like a mini-exhibition – is the installation of Real Pictures (1995) by Alfredo Jaar, who lays to rest the post-traumatic content of his Rwandan photographic encounters by entombing them in black boxes. The site contains a certain sorrow that can only be understood once you read the texts on the boxes, factually describing the photographs. The Real refers to a failure, or impossibility, of representation which sustains Jaar’s engagement with the subject matter of genocide. Whilst Daido Moriyama takes us back to the “beginning” of photography through a shot of his Tokyo bedroom in which Nicéphore Niépce’s “fossilised” View from the Window at Le Gras (1827) hangs (the clock reads 11:03, one minute after the Nagasaki bomb, as memorialised by the melted pocket watch of his mentor, Shōmei Tōmatsu), Hanako Murakami takes us back even further still via Louis Daguerre, whose words, now ignited in neon, “I am burning with desire to see your experiments from nature”, penned in a letter to Niépce. The statement becomes troubled alongside Murakami’s take-free paper stack which cleverly condenses Niépce’s 1829 treatise on the invention of heliography to its front and back covers, respectively illustrating both sides of a single sheet. Murakami’s ongoing, richly researched and poetic archaeologies of the past remind us that the history of photography is full of absences. By questioning the origins of the medium, she questions the memory of the world. 

3. Noémie Goudal
Galerie Les filles du Calvaire

The fragile instability of the world humans desire to see is intelligently interpreted by Noémie Goudal, whose dynamic presentation at the group show of Galerie Les filles du Calvaire really stands out. The complexity of Goudal’s interventions reside in the way it implicates the audience – both visually and spatially – in her fabrications of nature. For example, it is only upon a close inspection that her large snow-capped mountain peak images reveal themselves as paint-coated concrete slabs mounted on cardboard; their initial illusory vastness thus become vertiginous. Yet, if Goudal attempts a trompe-l’œil, it is intentionally flawed, for she does not set out to conceal the models’ constructedness, but instead puts it centre-stage. Her manipulations are even more ambiguous in Décantation (2021), which, on the contrary, are most impactful when viewed from afar. Achieved through a process of printing on water-soluble paper and rephotographing, small, subtle iterations narrate an imaginary washing-out – or “dissolving” – across time. Over the suite of photographs, the rock formations melt, like glaciers. It’s here that Goudal, chillingly, shows us the complicity between the desire to see and the desire to destroy. 

4. Patricia Conde Galería

One of the toughest and most transcendental viewings at this year’s fair comes from Cannon Bernáldez’s El estado normal de las cosas (2022), which is on show at Mexico City’s Patricia Conde Galería. Translating to The normal state of things, the piece sees Bernáldez communicate her experience of being assaulted through the language of fragmentation: an arrangement of 105 silver gelatin prints each depict her wounded hand. By way of burning as well as solarising – extreme, continuous and multiple overexposures of the photographic film – Bernáldez touches on the violence of inhabiting a physical, female body. Just as symbolically loaded is the work of Yael Martínez, represented here by a grid of nine new photographs that tell a dark and fractured tale of contemporary life in Mexico. For all his sublime, fantastical lyricism, Martínez channels an attuned physicality, spirit of resistance and sense of rootedness. Meanwhile, there is a special opportunity to view a portfolio of delectably printed Mary Ellen Mark photographs documenting vibrant happenings at Mexican circuses. Their joyousness and eccentricities make it clear why Mark considered the circus “a metaphor for everything that has always fascinated me visually.” 

5. Jean-Vincent Simonet, Heirloom

Since its inauguration in 2018, the Curiosa sector has been charged with injecting cutting-edge elements into the fair. And this year is no different as Holly Roussell’s energetic curation certainly continues in this vein. Jean-Vincent Simonet’s meta-experiments that form Sentiment’s booth are interesting because they fuse analogue photography and digital techniques in a way that feels more terminal than future. Comprising a classic hang of 12 unique pieces – images of, and made at, the printing factory that has belonged to the artist’s family across three generations – Heirloom (2022) turns its attention to the instruments of production: ink tanks, paper trash and cleaning tools. Whilst they lack the exuberant, excessive fetishism of his fashion work and nudes, they retain all the entropic impulsivity and vivid luminosity that makes Simonet’s work so seductive. Using and abusing industrial printers – through what appears to be a frenzied combination of false settings, plastic foils, drying, washing, rinsing and fingertip smudging – Simonet has manufactured and modified images that bear an uncanny resemblance to painting. Although the ink sometimes seeps into the white bleed, their “aliveness” is actually deceptive, for the lead frames bestow a sense that what we are really looking at are reliquaries: elegiac witnesses of an approaching demise.

6. Kensuke Koike, Versus
Goliga Editions

Kensuke Koike entrances once again with a series of mind-bending photo-sculptures at Goliga Editions, whose presentation is one of the most mesmerising and unique of the book sector. The brass and ebony-wooden frames of Versus (2022) create a kind of playground for the collagist extraordinaire, housing 16 loose acrylic bars that display four original vintage prints on each of its sides. Sliced and spliced with razor-sharp precision (it had to be so, because he had only one shot), Koike’s hand-made assemblages, despite their obvious Surrealist twist, in the end defy any “ism”. For one can switch, rotate and recombine the puzzles to activate wonderful metamorphoses – from human to floral and back again – thereby giving these once abandoned relics the chance to live a large, albeit mathematically finite, number of other lives. As for the rolling, cloud-shaped slider that glides across the base to animate the image, it might border on the gimmicky, but there’s no denying its amusement and charm. Nothing and everything is left to chance for Koike, who offers us a most pure form of visual pleasure: play.

Paris Photo runs at the Grand Palais Éphémère until 13 November 2022.

Alex Merola is Assistant Editor at 1000 Words.


1-Boris Mikhailov, The Theatre of War, Second Act, Time Out (2013). Courtesy the artist and Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve.

2-Boris Mikhailov, Tea, Coffee, Cappuccino (2000–10). Courtesy the artist and Galerie Suzanne Tarasieve.

3-Daido Moriyama, The Artist’s Bedroom (2008). Courtesy the artist and Jean-Kenta Gauthier.

4-Hanako Murakami, The Immaculate #D5 (2019). Courtesy the artist and Jean-Kenta Gauthier.

5-Noémie Goudal, Mountain III (2021). Courtesy the artist and Galerie Les filles du Calvaire. 

6-Cannon Bernáldez, El estado normal de las cosas (2022). Courtesy the artist and Patricia Conde Galería.

7-Jean-Vincent Simonet, Door (2022). Courtesy the artist and Sentiment.

8-Jean-Vincent Simonet, Untitled #5 (2022). Courtesy the artist and Sentiment.

9-Kensuke Koike, Versus #12 (2022). Courtesy the artist and Goliga Editions.

10-Kensuke Koike, Versus #17 (2022). Courtesy the artist and Goliga Editions.

Daido Moriyama


Akio Nagasawa Publishing

With thin pages between organic-feeling cloth covers, this slight book of photographs seems as delicate and fragile as life itself. Its first image, shot from a dispassionate distance, could be of a tiny pair of strange prawns, touching at the tail. But the next picture, a distressing close-up, dispels any illusion of the non-human: what look like two cowering newborns hug each other, all wrinkled skin and baby-fat wrists. Visual correspondence between two images – common and commonly inconsequential in photobooks – has rarely been used with such life-and-death profundity. For these are not prawns or live babies. They are dead embryos and dead foetuses.

Heartrending yet detached and neutral, Moriyama’s stream of never-borns ebbs and flows between the amorphous and the gravely human. Potent individual images abound: a male silhouette’s hands are stretched out, as if trying to grab onto life; another is dumped upside-down into a translucent bag, the human treated inhumanely. But most powerful of all is a recurring luminous figure, its face to the floor, seemingly trying to crawl. Immobile, we see it from behind, from above, from the side: a few grainy, refulgent pictures of apparent failure which stand for all human helplessness and despair. Nothing could be further from the globally-celebrated scientific wonder of Lennart Nilsson’s roughly contemporaneous pre-natal foetus photographs.

Made over half a century ago, Moriyama’s pictures reflect his embryonic career as a struggling young photographer. But they offer much more. Most of them are ethereal, almost unreal, and the heartbreak they provoke is all the stronger for their sensitivity and gentleness. They also demonstrate a level of traditional technical accomplishment and control not readily associated with an artist best known for rejecting photographic conventions and pushing his medium to a new frantic extreme of unfocused grain and blur.

Most importantly, Pantomime is the work of a young image-maker who is already a true artist, even before finding what we think of as his own photographic voice. At a very early stage of his development, Moriyama created the base material he has now formed into one of his finest photobooks.

Simon Bowcock

Images by Simon Bowcock, courtesy Akio Nagasawa and © Daido Moriyama

Daido Moriyama

a room

Essay by Jean-Kenta Gauthier

Renown for his urgent, blurry photographs of street scenes, experimental approaches to printed matter and vast dissemination of images, Daido Moriyama has in effect been working on a room in his own apartment since the 1970s. These intimate, black and white photographs, with their strong erotic undertones, offer a glimpse into Moriyama’s daily life. Mixing depictions of female nudes — often pictured from angles in which the models’ faces are kept obscured — with shots of banal and ordinary domestic situations, this works suggests a voyeuristic approach in which the artist is simultaneously a participant and observer of his own intimate, private documentary. Asserting both a sense of control over the actions and containment in its rendering, a room represents the diary of an artist, now aged 77, who for over five decades has harnessed photography’s power to revive memories like no other.

On February 14-15, 2015, Daido Moriyama held a ‘printing show’ performance in Akio Nagasawa gallery in Tokyo, using the entire selection of 67 photographs included in a room. The event, during which 600 unique copies of a book of the same name were produced, marked the fourth recreation of Moriyama’s now famous book-making performance since the original underground exhibition from 1974. It was also the first time Moriyama would reorganise such an event in Tokyo, as the three other venues were located in the US (Aperture Foundation, New York 2011), the UK (Tate Modern, London, 2012) and France (Le Bal, Paris, 2013).

‘Printing show’, a term coined by Moriyama, puts the process of creating a photobook at the heart of the event. That week of March 1974, participants were asked to select a fixed number of his images from a grid displayed on a wall, determine their order and then have them printed on location using a photocopy machine before assembling and stapling their own unique copy together. Each would be signed and accompanied by a silkscreen cover and the book, entitled Another Country in New York, ushering in a brand of performance art applied to the creation of a photobook.

Daido Moriyama has confessed to me that his favourite book is Andy Warhol’s catalogue for his exhibition held in 1968 at Modern Museet in Stockholm. Less a traditional museum catalogue, this historical book conveyed Warhol’s aesthetics without heavy use of text. Made of a stream of black and white images with a colourful silkscreen cover showing Warhol’s famous flower motif, this publication shares many similarities, despite its size and pagination, with Moriyama’s 2015’s a room or the aforementioned Another Country in New York.

Daido Moriyama has also made appropriation, a core idea in Warhol’s oeuvre, a key concept in his work. Over the course of a long and prolific career, photographs of posters or television screens, i.e. images of images, have become legion. The work that is the most representative of this principle is probably Accident, a volume of 12 series published each month throughout 1969 in the Japanese magazine Asahi Camera. Each series, wonderfully titled Premeditated or not, consists of photographing magazine pages or television screens ranging from incidents such as car crashes to murder cases, and other instances of violence, unrest and depravation. The premise of a ‘printing show’ naturally extends the appropriation principle further by enabling not only the artist but the public to make Moriyama’s images their own. It closes the gap between author and audience, message and medium. One could also add that, as is the case with a room, Moriyama has reached his utmost level of de-appropriation by letting the participants appropriate and edit what can be considered as the artist’s most intense images of highly personal memories.

During his 2011 printing show at Aperture Foundation, one particular participant chose to repeat the same image throughout her copy, which was a surprise to Daido Moriyama who smiled wryly when he discovered the singular sequence. By transmitting images, the ‘printing show’ fits into the wider discussion on the nature of visual communication. Moriyama, himself, has said the following on the matter: “When I sign each book, I open the book and look at the image on the first page, and I think ‘aah… this person chose this image!’ I kind of see the person’s character and taste. I find it very interesting. To tell the truth, I would like to see every page of what everyone has selected. For example, even without seeing the person’s face or their daily life and work, I think there is a moment of communication with them through photography.”

Often referring to the idea of a photograph being a “fossil of light and time” that is updated or reanimated every time it is seen by a viewer, Moriyama has focused his attention on the moment when one of his single memories potentially encounter those belonging to the viewer. In this sense, his ‘printing shows’, given that they let the viewers recontextualise Moriyama’s memories in the most tangible way, ultimately consist in a form of confrontation with memories. They represent the most advanced formula of the artist’s intention, of which a room is the latest and most generous manifestation. Moriyama says it best: “A single photograph contains different images.”

All images courtesy of the artist, Akio Nagasawa Gallery and Jean-Kenta Gauthier. © Daido Moriyama Foundation.

Jean-Kenta Gauthier is the founder of a Paris-based contemporary art gallery. He has also partnered with Clément Kauter and Akio Nagasawa on Circulation, a new laboratory space dedicated to artists’ books, opening on 13 November with an inaugural show of Daisuke Yokota’s new work entitled Inversion.