|INTERVIEW WITH STEPHEN COHEN: Founder of Photo LA
Conducted by Anthony Friedkin
Q. First, I would like to congratulate you on the fact your going into your nineteenth year with PHOTO LA-2010. That's a huge accomplishment; almost two decades now. What do you think is the reason for it's success? Why has it been so well received?
A. It's a good platform for photography. It's something I think the community needed, something people wanted. And there is good quality in it. It's something that has been growing and growing every year.
Obviously, this year with the economy being what it is, things are a little bit different. The fair is slightly smaller, but it's still going to be a great fair. We expect a very good turnout.
We have some very interesting events happening with it. We have the "La Brea Matrix Project" which is from "SCHADEN", a book publisher from Germany and the Lapis Press here in Los Angeles. It's a major project related to Stephen Shore's iconic 1976 photograph of La Brea and Beverly Boulevard, and its effect on the entire school of German photography for the past thirty years or more. It still has an effect, and this is will be the first phase. The second part of it will be in 2011. So it's a very interesting project.
Q. A project in the sense that your exhibiting some photographs that deal with this?
A. Well, it's presenting the project. There are diagrams and maps and text. There are also photographs of the six photographers that were chosen from Germany to, sort of, do their own vision of how they feel about Los Angeles after spending a month or two here.
The first part will show some of the pictures that they've taken, a little bit about those artists and about the project and what it's trying to do. In 2011 the results of all their photography will be displayed. A portfolio will be available for purchase. There are very few copies left. It's been pre-sold and there probably will be a book published on the work as well.
Q. What else will be going on at PHOTO LA this year?
A. We're also excited to be working with the Museum of Latin American Art for the first time. They have a very big survey exhibit opening on Latin American photography from 1990 - 2005, curated by Idurre Alonso. She will be giving a lecture on the project.
We are also working with LACMA again. The opening night is a benefit for the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography at LACMA and we have guest hosts as well. Photographer of celebrities David LaChapelle will have a small installation of his work. He will also be giving a lecture and presenting his new video. We have a young actor named Christopher Lowell, who is a very interesting photographer, and there will be a small selection of his work presented. He will be co-hosting the opening night.
We're excited because both these hosts are a little different for us and we're hoping they will bring in a different demographic.
Q. How would you describe the experience someone might have going to PHOTO LA? What can they look for?
A. It's even more 3D than the movie AVATAR. It's actually a real 3D experience! it's live!
Essentially people are going to see forty little Museum shows. There will be a lot of contemporary work on display, and there also will be some vintage work shown. We have a gallery from China, we have a gallery from Puerto Rico, and we have a gallery from Czechoslovakia and a gallery from Costa Rica as well. We are also excited about some new galleries that will be participating this year.
Q. Why do you think it's important for photographers to attend PHOTO LA?
A. A photographer should visit museums, art fairs and galleries, not just to see photography, but because they should see as much as they can, to see what has been done, to get a historical perspective on visual art.
Q. The people attending PHOTO LA will have an opportunity to see a real diversity of work, great original fine art photographs, correct?
A. Yes... they get to see it up close and personal. They get to see real prints, not reproductions.
Q. What about from a collector's standpoint? Why is it such a benefit for them to visit PHOTO LA? Is it because they can purchase different photographer's work from all over the world and be able to buy vintage work as well?
A. Definitely to purchase work; it's a buyers market. Because the way the economy currently is, there's no better time than now to buy. The market has been picking up quite a bit within the last couple of months. It's good for collectors because they will get to see one-of-a-kind things, vintage work, some unique work, or some work that has just come onto the market which they can get at entry level prices. They will be able to compare things, different sizes of prints, different periods in which the same photographic image was made.
Q. Knowing that you personally created PHOTO LA what are you most proud of about it? Through all the years what is it you feel best about?
A. I think it has really built a market here in Los Angeles. There are now a number of photo galleries in LA. PHOTO LA hopefully, celebrates the art form of photography in a positive way, and continues to educate the public about the joy of collecting photography and also the benefits of investing in the art form.
Q. Are you pleased to be back at the Santa Monica Civic auditorium this year?
A. The Santa Monica Civic has a lot of charm, parking is very easy, and it's right off the 10 freeway. You are at the beach, which is nice, you're in Santa Monica. which is a very cool place.
The fee's to visit PHOTO LA are very reasonable. $20.00 for the day or $30.00 dollars for all three days. The lectures and seminars offered separately are outstanding.
For students especially it's an exceptional learning opportunity. Galleries representing twenty different cities will be at PHOTO LA. There are a lot of important curators, reviewers, publishers, gallerists, and photographers who come to PHOTO LA. It's a great place for photographers to meet and socialize with one another as well.
Where would they ever get to see all this work in one place? It has a real value for anyone who loves photography.
Q. I hope the best for you this year. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A. Anyone who is interested in PHOTO LA should visit our website www.photola.com because we are updating it with information all the time...
A native of Los Angeles, Anthony Friedkin began photographing as a child. He started working in the darkroom at age eleven, processing and printing his own images. Since that time, which was in the early 1960's, he has accomplished a significant body of work. His photographs are included in major Museum collections: New York's Museum of Modern Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum and others. He is represented in numerous private collections as well. His pictures have been published in Japan, Russia, Europe, and many Fine Art magazines in America.