MIA Photo Fair 2021 — Selections
Here are our highlights from the Italian photography based fair
This year’s edition of MIA Photo Fair has come to an end. We didn’t have the opportunity to attend the physical fair, but this hasn’t stopped us from enjoying all the amazing artists and galleries that have been showcased in the Italian fair.
This edition showcased 98 exhibitors from 13 different countries. The most important Italian fair dedicated exclusively to photography hosted a huge amount of talent, with a big presence of Italian photographers, but also some internationally renowned names such as Pixy Liao, Vik Muniz, Yushi Li or Nan Goldin.
We have been following the fair’s edition through their website, where they shared a list of this year’s participant artists. From there, we’ve picked up some of the works that stand out and we would love to share them with you.
Yojiro Imasaka (b. 1983, Hiroshima, Japan) works begin with a classic 8 x 10 camera. This large format image is one of the results of spending hours observing the slight changes from the densely vegetated Japanese forests. His photographs are high quality images that present a lot of details. Then, in the darkroom, he makes colour alterations in order to reinterpret his own vision of nature.
In her works, Chinese artist Yushi Li (b. 1991, Guiyang, China) questions the male gaze and disassembles the dynamics between artist, subject and viewer. Normally, in her photographs, we see naked men posing as an erotic subject, referencing and subverting the classical conventions of art history. The Feast (outside) continues with this concept and gives the artist and the viewer authorisation to luxuriate in the pleasure of looking.
Dado Schapira (b. 1957, Milano, Italy) is not just a photographer. His background in textile is visible. The reinterpretation that he created in this image, even with the simplicity that it has, shows us an unquestionably technique and taste. Accompanied by some sketches, the artwork presents a threaded composition and a careful use of colour. Dado’s practice takes a lot of inspiration from books, dreams and personal experiences. These intrinsic emotions lie silent so that everyone can imagine their own stories.
It’s always pleasant to see works by Mona Kuhn (b. 1969, São Paulo, Brazil). She is considered one of the leading artists of figurative discourse. But on this occasion, she glimpses a new direction into abstraction, using reflections and selecting specific moments of the day. She was attracted by the South Californian desert and the goldish hues of the area. This remote location inspired her to experiment with these natural tools and navigate between the figure and the landscape. The result remains natural, restful and comfortable to the viewer.
He gained international fame as the artist who camouflages. This time, Liu Bolin (b. 1973, Shandong, China) presented a body integration with the famous Cathedral of Milano. The photograph represents another part of a long process of study, research and body painting. Through his career, Liu Bolin experimented the relation between performance and photography, and dissected the relationship between the individual and space. This work is part of his Hiding in the City series, which have been acclaimed by numerous art critics, and displayed in museums and institutions from all around the world.
We discovered Yorgos Yatromanolakis (b. 1986, Crete, Greece) photographs at Circulation(s) 2019 edition for the first time. And we fell in love with his work. This year, Red Lab Gallery brought us his series The Splitting of the Chrysalis & the Slow Unfolding of the Wings. The series is inspired by the rites of passage, rituals which occur when an individual leaves one group to enter another. Yorgos put the focus on the process of metamorphosis, creating a mysterious world and using the idea of the cocoon of a chrysalis and how its forms change in order to become something new. After four years, Yorgos returned to his homeland and proposed this project which puts emphasis on the biological processes of transformation that exist in nature, reflecting parallelisms with a situation that he coexists and identifies himself with.
Works by Italian photographer, Luca Lupi (b. 1970, Pontedera, Italy) follows a very specific and recognizable composition. Most of his landscapes are compact pieces of land followed by a vast sky above them. In these images, both scenes present the same point of view, the only difference is the presence of subjects. But this is pure formality, the main character of the scene is the void. This is something that really catches our attention on Lupi’s works, the ability to transmit the enormity of the sky and the domination of the blue with all its shades. As spectators, we remain in the lowered horizon position, almost at the edge of the image, but our perspective is perfectly centralized and allows us to inspect the landscape in detail.
It was hard to select just one work from this year’s Podbielski Contemporary booth. Their proposal was based on Emerging Italian Photographers. We decided to close “MIA Photo Fair 2021 — Selections’’ with Lizard, from the series Diachronicles by Giulia Parlato (b. 1993, Palermo, Italy). The series invites the viewers to dig into a world where true and fake overlap. Where non-existent artefacts mix with the historical reality. Through this project, Giulia attempts to reconstruct the past gaps, addressing the leading role of archaeology and the museum space as the main scenario for historical narrative. From all the images of the series, Lizard caught our attention due to the importance inside the narrative that the project follows. It shows us how these practices and institutions use the human body to suggest scale and as a means to display objects, which gives the body (and the new subject) a totally new meaning.
Also from Podbielski Contemporary, we discovered a lot of interesting artists like Francesca Catastini and her series Petrus (2019), Marina Caneve with her project Are They Rocks or Clouds? (2019), or Silvia Bigi with her last series From dust you came (and dust you shall return) (2021). Among other artists, the Milano based gallery also brought works by Massimiliano Gatti, Federico Clavarino and Jacopo Valentini, hosting an amazing booth introducing Emerging Italian Photographers.