Photo Basel 2022 — Selections
As you all would know, June is Basel month and despite having all the eyes on Art Basel, we decided to begin this year’s route with Photo Basel. International galleries came together to celebrate the only fair dedicated exclusively to photography in the country.
If you have been following us for a while, you know that our priority is to find the up-and-coming talent in the current landscape of our medium. Photo Basel has been the perfect place for that in regards to the spectrum of the commercial fairs. These are some of the names that were already under our radar before visiting the fair and some fresh artists that we had the pleasure to discover during the Art Basel week.
To be honest, I didn’t know a lot about the Turkish contemporary photography scene. Versus Art Project curated the best presentation in order to introduce them to new audiences. Among them, the work from Selim Süme stood out for us. The way he observes its surroundings in a very informal way puts in question the concept of what an image is.
Selim’s main interest is the representativeness of the image which normally comes associated with memory. Driven by an introspective analysis, his photographs challenge the viewer to play a game. Some sort of hide-and-seek game inside a domestic space that motivates curiosity, opening the door to a quotidian intimacy attached to collective childhood memories.
Working together as a duo since 2007, Inka and Niclas have been exploring the materiality of photography and how nature is perceived from a contemporary perspective. Their breathtaking photographs welcomed everyone at the first hall of the fair. Together with Julia Peirone’s works, the booth curated by Dorothee Nilsson was exhibiting some of their ‘Family Portraits’ series.
Described as “bright utopian landscapes”, Inka and Niclas’ images are a contemporary consumption of a natural world through technology. By the stylisation of the landscape and its subjects, they allow us to experience nature through digitalisation and rethink about our own existence.
Standing out in Peter Sillem’s booth, the photographs by young Ghanian artist Melanie Issaka composed a solid body of work that brings to the table the complexity of being a Black woman inhabiting a white context. She decided to use the blueprint technique which creates a strong contrast by highlighting the void white shapes.
Issaka conceived these series after visiting her homeland and realising the existence of a whiteness which she was part of. No matter if she was in Ghana or in the UK, she felt socially distanced. Although this sort of isolation feeling, she was capable to translate and mirror the duality of the hypervisibility (or invisibility) afforded Black bodies, being able to own her identity through photography.
Asian artists are definitely my soft spot and more specifically Chinese. One of the reasons might be because my BA final project was about their contemporary art scene. Imagine how excited I was when I found out about Migrant Bird Space. For this edition they brought so many good works, but there was one artist in particular that I wasn’t so familiar with, and that is Feng Li.
Originally from Chengdu, Li embraces street photography using his own improvised visual vocabulary. His position as a civil servant allows him to, in his spare time, capture the peculiar scenes that he finds during the night. The exaggerated angles, the invasive use of the flash and the absurdity of some of his scenes document the fascinating life of a city which seems never sleep.
I always found still life painting fascinating. Small and mid-size canvases scattered in museums from all around the world that contain symbolic representations of the fears and principles of those past cultures. Objects that used to be associated with global ideas at that time. And maybe they still are. Lucija Rosc proposes an evaluation of those values and how they can preserve it or lose it over time.
At first sight the objects seem to be randomly placed. Without any functional purpose. It is not after a closer examination that they reveal a deliberated archive of old reminiscences. Objects that have been assembled and now are part of a contemporary aesthetic that opens a dialogue between the past and the present.