a ppr oc he – a new (fashion) narrative
Few new photography projects have attracted such interest quite as quickly as a ppr oc he, a salon devoted to the experimentation of the photographic medium, whose Third Edition was held in Paris, November 8-10, 2019. The heading serves as both a taste and a warning: if you can take part in a photo exhibition without scrolling through Instagram, then it must be worth it, particularly in terms of emotional depth.
Especially in Paris, during the month of the FIAC/Paris Photo Fair, a pp roc he displays a fresh and bold vision of the production of images. Designed as an exhibition with a curatorial approach and set in a hôtel particulier (a type of French luxurious classic apartment of vast dimensions in the shape of a villa but built in a city), it brings down the barriers between the worlds of photography and contemporary art, and we – fashion geeks, arty people, visual culture lovers – are really thankful for this.
Exhibition reviews should be analytical rather than subjective, though some emotive exceptions are necessary. Please, try to imagine a tailor-made opening with collectors, art enthusiasts, gallerists, recognized and emerging artists, all together in a Parisian apartment. Naturally, fashion is not the main draw of the salon, which is a sensitive, nuanced portrayal of images production; at the same time though, both in the event and in its meaning, a pp roc he opens up a new narrative, an engagement that does not leave the fashion blogosphere out.
But first of all, a ppr oc he is far better than its shining surface: I’m not talking about an “artsy” event, (often considered as more trendy than “arty” ones). Want proof? Emilia Genuardi & Elsa Janssen, the two ladies behind the entire project, have adopted the statement below:
“Honor the artists, understand their universe, share the strength of their creation. Following their suggestion, the attitude to keep in visiting the salon is observing all the space from the white cube to the city. Make unique experiences, dream, give to see; wake up the senses. Encourage meetings between artists and their audience. Analyze new uses, new cultural practices; to ennoble everyday life through artistic experience.”
Emilia & Elsa – as narrators and curators who accompany me during the vernissage (Merci Ladies!) explained and showed me this edition’s selection. Most of the artists were born in the 1980s or later, a generation I share my visual references and social media issues with.
For this edition, Etienne Hatt has also been invited to bring his curatorial perspective on the 15 artists selected, on their individual voices. To cement the artists’ personalities, to find their way in these new photographic territories, they can be divided into five main subject areas: Nature and Environmental Issues (Anaïs Boudot, Douglas Mandry, Benoît Jeannet); Automatic Writing through Collage, Mixed Media and Geometry (Jonny Briggs, Noé Sendas, Lindsay Calidocott, Éléonore False); Dialogue of Memory (My-Lan Hoang-Thuy, Lebohang Kganye); The Appropriation of Images (Cathryn Boch, Pugnaire & Raffini, Dune Varela); Photography Explorations (Laure Tiberghien, Thomas Paquet, S.bastien Reuzé).
Walking around with Emilia & Elsa allowed me to observe the guests move in the different rooms. I have to admit everyone was repeating the tour many times, captivated by the narrative of the accurate selection, the real heart of the experience. Special mention to Benoît Jeannet with ‘Escape From Paradise’, Lebohang Kganye with ‘Ke Lefa Laka/Her Story’ and Jonny Briggs with ‘Broken Nature’.
The context of the exhibition and the opening experience grant visitors the opportunity to make some remarks, also about fashion. For sure, we are welcoming a new of generation of arty people, rising up and inheriting a complicated world, where social and environmental issues, expression of identities and research of equality and are more important than ever. Attention to such issues is the reason why I gave the artists above my special mention.
Now, the fact that the selected artists are part of my generation is commendable and fascinating – not only for their works, and, of course, not only for their outfits. Instead, I’m referring to a general attraction for contemporary art and its protagonists, something you could even touch attending a ppr oc he, especially if you work in fashion.
Tumblr accounts, Instagram feeds, and Pinterest dedicated to the contemporary art events have popped up, as well as various media websites eager to see people attending contemporary art openings. Why? Apparently, it is historically associated with the idea of grandeur, aristocratic commitment, jazz set or whatever… but I really consider them as visual demonstration of how fashion is looking for new narratives, both in terms of the way we look at images and how images are marketed to us. In a not so distant future, we will probably be able to accept how unrealistic and uninspired our days full of social media visual contents will be.
For this reason, posting a picture of one of your favourite pieces of a ppr oc he has become a badge of honor in the Parisian fashion environment. This might be proof of a shift in media driven visual culture behavior. Instead of always looking for the same kind of situations, posts and contents, it is possible to observe (and buy) exactly what you imagined and liked, without even having to tone down the performative aspect to take part in an event. The new desire is wanting to see something you then realize fits into your existing life and collection.
When asked if this effect was planned to Emilia & Elsa, they admit “while we were working on the concept, we didn’t realize how much (fashion) interest there would be in all the details of the salon.” a ppr oc he captures our next visual interests and photography experiences, even if we have not understood them yet. Look at the pictures.