British curator Simon Baker talks about his discoveries at the 13th SP-Foto
24 Aug 2019, 1:49 pm
In 2009, British researcher Simon Baker became curator of the recently founded photography department at Tate Modern, in London. When he visited Brazil for the first time, two years ago, Baker participated in a panel during the 11th SP-Foto, and talked about his path in the creation and development of photography collections in museums. The curator is currently director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, in Paris – a reference in the photographic field.
Simon Baker returned for the 13th SP-Foto and we asked him: what did you encounter in the Fair this time that you hadn’t seen before?
My first choice is the “Ramos” series, by artist Julio Bittencourt, presented at Galeria Lume. As they are presented alongside Martin Parr, who is famous outside Brazil and that I already know well, the images of the beach by Bittencourt drew my attention more. As a foreigner, it is interesting to observe a beach life much less glamourous than what we usually associate to Brazil. In addition to the three photos shown by the gallery, I enjoyed the book “Ramos”, it is great to meet artists that not only take good photographs but also produce good photo books. Even though the theme is dense, the aesthetics, the colors, the style of the photographs is formally interesting.
My second selection is by an artist who I never heard of and that I found out today, Marcelo Moscheta. The series of photographs shot in the Atacama desert is fantastic. I like the fact that the artist is not a traditional photographer, that he works with installations, sculptures, film… In this lovely presentation inside a glass box, he takes away the colors that would be in the image and places them in a pantone scale, so the work is much more conceptual than just photographic. The notions that the work bears about the environment gain strength in the week we are living in São Paulo and the Brazilian context of deforestation. It think it’s brave for a gallery to bet on a more conceptual work than those with a more commercial character. The work is sophisticated, quiet, bringing this idea of photography as an object. This is, moreover, one of the reasons to visit an art fair: materially encountering photographs, not only flipping through images on a screen.
Man Ray & Marcel Gautherot
I would like to talk about Fólio Galeria booth organization as a whole. They mixed many different styles of photography, from portraits of artists who are celebrities to images that became famous through time. You can spend over forty minutes in this booth so rich in material. I found it interesting that the gallery brought images by Man Ray, important artist now with a big solo show in town, and they have historical publications on Brazil and the artistic vanguards in general that are incredible. There is an original publication with poems and pornographic photographs by Man Ray from 1929 that I have never seen before, only a fac-símile. Yesterday, at the Fair, I came to this booth with the carioca artist Marcos Chaves and we were impressed with a series of photographs of Rio de Janeiro taken by Marcel Gautherot in the 1960s. When I went to Rio, I found the city quite busy and noisy, but these images convey a modern and empty paradise that I didn’t know.
Mauro Restiffe & Janaina Tschäpe
Fortes, D’Aloia & Gabriel
My last choice also includes the whole space of Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel. I like visiting solo booths in art fairs, or with only a duo dialoguing among them, presenting the artist in a more structured way. I liked discovering the group of photographs by Janaina Tschäpe, with these curious interventions on a natural environment. And the photographer Mauro Restiffe presents a new series made in the interval between the election and the inauguration of Bolsonaro. I know Restiffe’s work, including the series he made of these same spaces in Brasilia in Lula’s time. Upon his return, he decides to shoot in color, something that I had never seen before and that made the work incredibly beautiful. The tones, the shapes of the architecture and the modern furniture are striking. To me, seeing new works by an artist that I already know is very positive.