The three fairs, Art-O-Rama, Paréidolie, and Polyptyque, make Marseille an unmissable late summer destination, as many collectors end their vacation in the region or take a special trip. All three events are on a human scale, facilitating contacts between visitors, galleries, and artists. Polyptyque, the most recent addition, was created four years ago by Erick Gudimard, director of the Centre Photographique Marseille (CPM). Small size goes here hand in hand with high quality. The show is divided between six galleries (including one joint project), each showcasing an artist, plus an exhibition bringing together eleven photographers longlisted among 54 submissions for the Polyptyque Award. Three winners were designated by a prestigious jury* on August 26.
What is special about this award? It is aimed at photographers living in Région Sud (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), who do not have a gallery. The idea is to support local artists who have limited contact with the art market in order to boost their visibility, explained Erick Gudimard. “This is the third time that I participate in the jury, and I have noted the fair is getting stronger every year. The submissions are top-notch and represent a wide variety of practices. This makes it possible to make some wonderful discoveries,” says Caroline Stein, philanthropy manager at Neuflize OBC, which celebrates this year the twenty-fifth anniversary of its support for artists and institutions in the field of visual arts.
The three winners of the 2022 Polyptyque Award are Julia Gat, Andrea Graziosi, and Jeanne et Moreau. Among them, special mention goes to the duo Jeanne and Moreau (Lara Tabet and Randa Mirza) whose installation brings together photographic prints, a print on fabric, a print on broken glass installed on the floor, and an old photo album containing their own images which the visitor is invited to consult. The whole tells the story of the couple’s life following the destruction of their apartment in the Beirut harbor explosion in August 2020. In his series Animas, the Italian photographer Andrea Graziosi in turn presents an astonishing gallery of portraits of dark and disturbing, half-human/half-animal masked creatures that hark back to the ancestral traditions of the Barbagia region in central Sardinia. Graziosi adopts a documentary stance even as he gives free rein to his imagination.
The larger exhibition brings together six French galleries and one German. As Erick Gudimard tells us, “participation is free in return for a small percentage of sales. It is an exchange of good practices: the galleries bring us their skills and their advice by supporting us in promoting the award-winning artists.” Among the exhibitors, special mention goes to Céline Croze featured by the Sit Down Gallery (Paris). In her work on Caracas, Crozier transcribed her nocturnal wanderings around the Venezuelan capital using a cinematographic style in shades of sepia. This series will be presented this fall at the Festival du Regard, with the overarching theme of the night (from October 14 to November 27, 2022 in Cergy-Pontoise).
Another discovery to keep an eye on is Guénaëlle de Carbonnières, showcased by the Binome (Paris) and Françoise Besson (Lyon) galleries. Through works from four recent series, the artist explores the themes of heritage and archaeology using different processes that combine digital and analog photography, engraving, drawing, etc. Whether the final result is prints—as in the series Submergées [Submerged], Cités englouties [Sunken Cities], or Creuser l’image [Deeper into the Image]—or objects where the negatives are sealed in resin—as in the series Fossil—de Carbonnières questions our relationship to history and memory, and turns the notion and status of the document on its head.
One should not leave Marseille without seeing Thomas Mailaender’s exhibition at the Centre Photographique. Here, too, we encounter the unusual and the unexpected, two signature concepts of the Centre. The place has been made unrecognizable by the installations, notably a giant greenhouse, cyanotypes made directly on the walls using tanning lamps bought on Leboncoin along with the magazines from which the images are taken. A free spirit, Thomas Mailaender has fun with serious things, experimenting with recycled materials, calling on fine arts students to assist in this production in the Centre’s spirit of participation … The tour ends at a sort of an artist’s studio where, on a large table, are a jumble of works-in-progress fashioned from cult books on the history of the medium. A visit full of twists and turns!
4th edition of Polyptyque, August 27 to September 10, 2022. 3, rue Henri Fiocca, 13001 Marseille, France.
Thomas Mailaender, Lumière passion. May 27 to September 24, 2022, Centre Photographique Marseille (CPM). 74 rue de la Joliette, 13002 Marseille, France.
* Jury: Pascal Beausse, head of the photography collection at the CNAP; Françoise Bornstein, director of the Sit Down Gallery (Paris); Florence Bourgeois, director of Paris Photo; Pascal Neveux, director of the FRAC Picardie Hauts-de-France, president of the CIPAC; Alexander Sairally and Esther Schulte, directors of the Drawing Room Gallery (Hamburg); Caroline Stein, philanthropy manager and curator at the Neuflize OBC Bank collection.