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A Conversation with Paris Photo Los Angeles’ New Directors

Tomorrow, the third edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles opens to the public at Paramount Pictures. The fair will again take place on the New York back lot and over a few sound stages. There are some new things to note this year, including new leadership: director Florence Bourgeois and artistic director Christoph Wiesner. Also debuting is a JPMorgan Chase Young California Photography Award, BMW’s “Wild Style” exhibition, the historical show of photos from the R.J. Arnold archives “California Unedited!, and an all-new format of Sound & Vision screenings and conversations. A few weeks before the opening, we spoke with Bourgeois and Wiesner.

WHITEWALL: Paris Photo Los Angeles is still a rather young fair. When you started working on the third edition, what did you see was working from the past two years, and what did you change or add?

FLORENCE BOURGEOIS: Well, same as last year we will use the New York back lot, and we will have three sound stages around it. One of the stages will only focus on young galleries. In this stage we will also have something new regarding young artists, the JPMorgan Chase prize for students of California schools. Six of the students that have been selected will be exhibited and during the preview on April 30, the finalist will be chosen and will be given a donation of $5,000.

WW: The Sound & Vision program seems to have slightly changed this year. If we’re correct, the screenings will be integrated into the conversations?

CHRISTOPH WIESNER: Yes, this year we decided to integrate the screenings into the conversations. We have Friday screenings by Allen Ruppersberg and Amie Siegel. On Sunday we will have screenings by Pierre Bismuth.

FB: Paris Photo Los Angeles is officially called the international art fair of photography and moving image. So of course, being in Los Angeles, it would be difficult not to integrate this idea of moving image. There is an obvious link between photography and moving image.

CW: It’s a link but it’s also a projection for the future. We want to work on that for the future.

WW: Is film something you’d ever focus on in Paris?

FB: Who knows? Christoph and I only arrived a few months ago so we’re really focused on Los Angeles. We’re open to this but at this point we don’t know yet.

WW: How do collectors attending the fair in LA compare to those in Paris?

FB: In Paris, the fair has existed for 18 years, so collectors are coming naturally from Europe and from the United States. Paris Photo is the first photography fair in the world. In Los Angels, it’s only our third year, so it’s a market that is newer. We are focusing on Los Angeles collectors and buyers in the tech and Hollywood communities, but also on the collectors from around California, the western United States, and Asia.

CW: I’ve had conversations with a lot of LA galleries about a new generation collectors that are not aware about the art market directly but want to start to collect. Photography is a starting medium for a lot of collectors, prices for photographs start much lower than a painting, and the medium is accessible.

WW: Another big component of the fair is the presentation of photography books, with several book signings taking place throughout the weekend. What role do photography books play in a fair?

CW: Before photography was really considered an art, books were one of the most important mediums to present of photographs. It’s really part of the tradition of photography. We have very good editors working with us and really wanted to stick to this tradition.

FB: We have an editor that exhibits in Paris for many years who said that an art book cannot work without photography. So it’s important to have editors and exhibitiors, it’s part of the DNA of the fair.


Paris Photo Los Angeles is on view May 1-3.


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