My guide to PHotoEspaña

Category: Art & Culture June 13, 2013

Harry Callahan. Eleanor and Barbara, Chicago, 1953
Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Cortesía Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York © The Estate of Harry Callahan

Once again this June PHotoEspaña returns to Madrid with so many fascinating exhibitions it’s hard not to fall prey to Stendhal’s syndrome. Dates: 5 June to 28 July. Place: all over the city. Here’s a list of 10 shows I’ll be sure not to miss.

Avant-garde classics:

The Fine Arts Circle is hosting two exhibitions that best highlight the theme of this year’s edition of the festival: Body. Eros and Politics”. Woman. The feminist avant-garde of the 1970s, features works by Ana Mendieta, Sanja Ivekovic, Helena Almeida, Esther Ferrer, Birgit Jürgenssen, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman and others, and examines the oeuvre of a generation of women who have used conceptual art to explore the political dimension of their bodies. Meanwhile, He, She, It. Dialogues between Harry Callahan and Edward Weston takes a new look at the female anatomy through the eyes of two of the most representative figures in the world of pure photography, free from erotic stereotypes. And for a clue to the source of this formal clarity of the American masters, this edition of PhotoEspaña also includes a retrospective exhibition on the Modernist Nudes of František Drtikol, on display at the National Engraving Centre, which reveals the influence of the historic avant-garde movements of Cubism and Futurism.

Portraits of time:

These small shows could easily go unnoticed, and yet they are undoubtedly the most poignant of the whole festival. They feature photographs conceived as fossils of another era, which illustrate the passing of time with uncanny precision. The Lázaro Galdiano Museum hosts the Taxonomy of Chaos, with portraits and landscapes from the Rafael Doctor Roncero collection by Nadar, Disderi, Clifford, Pipilotti Rist, Cristina García Rodero and David Hilliard, and charts the different ways in which photographers have viewed the body through the ages. Doctor Roncero himself will be on hand for the duration of the exhibition to personally attend to visitors. Meanwhile at the Raquel Ponce Gallery, Ignacio Navas revives the memory of his aunt through a series of photos from the family album. In Yolanda this young artist tells a harrowing but true story that reflects the values and ideals of the 1980s and 90s.

Mark Shaw. Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy y Jacqueline Kennedy en Hyannis Port, 1959. © Mark Shaw /

The intimacy of the famous

The photographs by Mark Shaw at Loewe’s on Calle Serrano, and by Lawrence Schiller at the Mondo Gallery focus on very specific moments in the lives of the Kennedy family and Marilyn Monroe respectively. The two artists had access to both the public personas and private lives of these American icons. The Kennedys contains unpublished photos of the family, while Marilyn and Me and More. America and the 1960s features nude images of the actress that have never previously been seen in Spain.

The more radical shows

For audiences looking for more radical fare, the exhibition Pierre Molinier. Tempus fugit at the Guillermo de Osma Gallery contains several self-portraits of the artist as a transvestite, and explores the idea of self-eroticism. This same theme also underpins Flower Paradise, the exhibition of still lifes by Nobuyoshi Araki that opens the newly refurbished La Fábrica Gallery, now with a restaurant and more books. Finally, the exhibition Fauxtographies, not part of PhotoEspaña but held concurrently with the festival, takes a look at one of the fundamental issues in photography since the digital revolution. The curator Carlos Delgado Mayordomo has compiled a collection of works by David Trullo which, in the guise of real documents of false facts, question the ontology of the image.

David Trullo, Paul Éluard, Louis Aragon, André Breton, Robert Desnos and Tristan Tzara, Seconds Before Crashing into the Bauhaus Building, Weimar, 20 May 1924. And Florence Stoker Trying Hand Shadows on a Rainy Day, Kildare Street, Dublin, 20 April 1912

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