contemporary art / history of art

MIA Photo Fair: Insights and Outlooks


From 22 to 25 March The Mall in the Milanese quarter of Porta Nuova Varesine was the platform for the ninth edition of the MIA PHOTO FAIR. This Italian art fair is dedicated to photography and moving image, however it was dominated by still pictures. The 135 exhibitors outlined a wide-ranging insight into the world of photography, from purely analogue pictures to highly digitalized images, from portraits over still-life’s to landscapes and from snapshots over staged compositions to collages. Besides many other subjects, architecture and the human body were to discover in various forms. 85 galleries were selected by a scientific committee, about a third of them came from abroad. Additionally, there were 50 exhibitors subdivided in special projects and editors. 25 000 visitors attended the event. Noteworthy is that many artists were present to personally communicate with the audience.


Tributes to Art History

Some galleries brought classics, like the Suite 59 Gallery from Amsterdam, which showed snapshots of Picasso by André Villers and Edward Quinn. A reference to the modern classic painter Giorgio Morandi made Marco Neri at the Milanese gallery Spazio Kappa 32. He gave used bottles a “Second Life” and pointed with that to our throwaway society. Suitably the Galleria Federica Ghizzoni from Milan presented two artists who interpreted bottles as well. Romana Zambon gave her objects diverse backgrounds and Sara Baxter depicted in a somehow Pop Art manner vessels for classic aperitifs adding acrylic paint. Another allusion to traditional paintings made the Dutch Galerie Lilja Zakirova. Specialised on Russian artists they brought photos by Katerina Belkina and Raoef Mamedov, which remind in composition and colour oeuvres of the renaissance or even modern times, but often with contemporary elements.

Landscapes and other Insights

Unconventional landscapes revealed Rune Guneriussen at the Italian Marco Rossi gallery. The Norwegian artist uses objects created by human beings to compose ephemeral installations in natural ambiences. He contributed one of the resulting surprisingly balanced photos as title image of the fair. Whereas Guy Russell’s images seem to draw the spectator into his landscapes. With his Danish QGallery he showed grey cloudy and foggy northern views. Insights into the fading world of classical car repair garages gave the Dutch photographer Jacquie Maria Wessels at the Belgian Galerie Baudelaire. The often mysterious compositions are resulting from a strictly analogue process.

Attention to Architecture

Architecture was at several booths on focus. Riccardo Costantini Contemporary from Turin presented the partly breath-taking and abstracting black and white images by Piero Mollica. In contrast to them were the coloured cityscapes of well-known monuments in diasec technique by Verena Guther at the Zurich based Python Gallery. Surrealistic are the dystopias by Aldo Salucci. The Galleria Statuto 13 showed the inundated landmarks in a solo show. Also disconcerting and very mystifying were the photos of the Sicilian Temple of Selinunte by Ugo Riccardi at the Burning Giraffe Art Gallery from Turin. Nevertheless, the light effects are the result of a long exposure and a brave assistant who run round the building with two torches. Two other artists Irene Kung (Contrasto Galleria, Milan) and Alessandro Piredda (Galleria Forni, Bologna) are photographing cityscapes and monuments by night. In doing so, they present the buildings in a poetic game of light and shadow.

Architecture and Society

Architecture with its inner life was on view at the Paris based Courcelles Art Contemporain. Nicolas Boutruche shows cut open buildings to give the spectator the possibility to watch what is happening inside. Also the artists at Fabbrica Eos from Milan question society, but by superimposing or assembling. Robert Gligorov composed Eurabia from an image of the Place d’Etoile de Paris and the Kaaba in Mecca. David Bramante fantasises in his series “My own rave” cities as his own urban picture, which dislocates the single elements into one plane.

Hiding the human body

The Greek architect and urban planner Andreas Theologitis combines two main issues: architecture and the human body. For the Athens based Kourd Gallery he projected images of buildings onto naked models. Thereby straight lines are distorted and adapt themselves to the curves of the physique. In other photos, the human body vanishes almost behind a building. Marilù Manzini at the Milanese Galleria Paolo Colombari let the human body disappear in a different manner, for example behind a gas mask or under a shroud.

The human Body as Pleasure Garden

Podbielski Contemporary from Berlin and Milan dedicated the whole booth to the exhibition “Pleasure Garden” with more or less nudes from various artists. In doing so, they presented different photographic positions as Ferdinando Scianna’s confrontation of a marble sculpture and a woman, both in similar positions lying on a bed. Benyamin Reich portrayed Maja Siren on the shore of Rügen, Beatrice Speranza hid her nude on a screen in front of a bookshelf and Eikoh Hosoe shows a fraction of an embracement between a white and a black human body so that it appears almost abstract.

Focus on Parts of the Body

Similarly, Ingrid Stein at the Milanese Art Studio Pedrazzini chooses only body parts for her photos. However, the effect is more figurative and partly sets accents by light and shadow. Also Riccardo Bandiera shows only body parts, but sets them in context to the ecosystem. His “Atlas over Arteries” was as MIA PROPOSAL on view. Rania Mater photographed young women, sometimes covered, at other times revealingly dressed. In doing so, she investigates about the meaning of being a girl or a woman. The solo show at the CIE Contemporary from Milan was part of the project BEYOND PHOTOGRAPHY.