This Spring, AIPAD’s Photography Show Returns in Full Force
In an exclusive interview, executive director Lydia Melamed Johnson speaks on the fair’s highly anticipated return to the Park Avenue Armory, the themes and perspectives at play, and the exhibitors to know.
It goes without saying that one of the pandemic’s effects has been a lingering disruption of the art world: over the past few years, galleries, artists, and even the industry’s flagship fairs have grappled with the challenges posed by the black swan event of the century. But slowly, the industry is righting itself, and for some, the quest is no longer just to make it through another year—or day—but to recommit to serving artists and collectors in impactful, future-facing ways. The Association for International Photography and Art Dealers’ (AIPAD) Photography Show is one such organization, led by executive director Lydia Melamed Johnson, cautiously emerged from the pandemic years with its 2022 edition.
Before returning to the ornate, Gothic Revival halls of its previous home at the Park Avenue Armory, the fair staged more intimate editions at Midtown’s Center 415. “We ensured the demand and supply was still present,” she told Surface of the decision to let the fair find its footing before returning uptown. “Following a fantastic edition in 2023, we knew the organization was ready to once again grow and inhabit such a distinct space.” From April 25-28, 2024, the fair will stage its first edition back in the Armory’s halls.
In the following interview, Melamed Johnson tells Surface about key themes shaping photography today, including championing women behind the lens, and the Black experience in America. She also shares how the Park Avenue Armory will impact the experiences of collectors and exhibiting galleries, and how fellow leaders at ADAA, the Winter Show, and Paris Photo have shaped the Photography Show’s renewed vision.
Tell us about the significance of the return of the show to the Park Avenue Armory. What drove the decision to return?
In Herzog & de Meuron’s book about the ongoing restoration project at the Park Avenue Armory, a quote by Jacques Herzog spoke to why this building has such an enduring legacy and why we are excited to juxtapose cutting-edge, contemporary photography within this Gothic Revival venue. “The foremost families of New York society celebrated themselves there. In the period rooms, you walk into sacred territory. The rooms are the creations of the best designers that were to be had in those days.”
AIPAD’s board of directors and I feel that it is in this space, with its renovations by some of the best designers of our age, like Herzog, that we can truly exhibit the power of photography through the ages and place our chosen art form alongside great design and scale.
How does the Armory better serve fair-goers and exhibitors?
Its location in the heart of New York City with close proximity to some of the world’s most important art institutions makes the Armory an ideal location for an art fair that celebrates the full and encyclopedic arc of photography. The scale is also great, as it’s not an overwhelming, unending space but an intimate, grand building that allows the viewer time to see everything inside without being swallowed by outsized rooms.
The Photography Show seems to see itself as being on the cusp of a new era. Tell us about some key exhibitors who encapsulate that.
AIPAD could not embark on a new era without the tremendous support and encouragement from our member galleries, many of which have been with us for decades. A great example is Edwynn Houk Gallery, who will be showing a self-portrait by Ilse Bing. Female portraiture and the evolution of women’s presence—both behind and in front of the camera—has been a big theme in photography recently, and we’re excited to have Houk further exploring this relationship in classic photography.
A direct correlation with our new management is the Associate Membership program that launched at the beginning of 2023. Next year’s edition will showcase four of our Associate Members, including The Hulett Collection of Tulsa and Assembly of Houston. We always welcome a few, select non-member galleries to the main sector, and are looking forward to seeing new presentations by galleries like RocioSantaCruz of Spain and Ellephant of Canada.
Tell me about some of the prevailing themes of this year’s fair, and the works, photographers, and exhibiting galleries that embody them.
The big themes in photography now are the female perspectives behind the camera and the interaction with both technology and the viewer. This is exemplified by the Domestic Demise and Anonymous Women series by Patty Carroll, the recent winner of the BBA Photography Prize. The series will be on view at Catherine Couturier’s booth, where the artist’s subjects melt into domestic spaces with an absurdity that calls out what’s expected of the feminine.
The Black experience in America continues to be a major arc in current scholarship and collecting. This will be exemplified with a presentation in Arnika Dawkins’ booth of works by Oye Diran, Ervin A. Johnson, Delphine Fawundu, Barbara DuMetz,, and Builder Levy that highlight Black beauty and its stark and moving evolution.
Socioeconomic and activist causes have also come to the fore. Marshall Gallery of Santa Monica, a first time AIPAD exhibitor, will feature Alex Turner’s Blind River series, looking at the U.S./Mexico border in Arizona and dissecting how contested spaces can influence the surrounding environment. This will be showcased alongside Cody Cobb, who utilizes artificial lighting and cutting-edge textured UV printing to create 3D topographic works of other-worldly and nocturnal landscapes.
It’s a really exciting time to see women leaders in photography, and, more broadly, art fairs right now. Were there any fellow leaders from across the industry whose feedback and advice has shaped your renewed vision for the Photography Show?
Absolutely! I’m privileged to have worked with and been able to turn to many industry-leading women for collaboration and advice, each of whom is a constant inspiration and motivation to continue improving our flagship fair and this organization. From Florence Bourgeois of Paris Photo to Maureen Bray at ADAA, who has been kind enough to share her counsel on sustainability at the venue and within her organization, and Helen Allen from The Winter Show, who has been a mentor and was instrumental in our move back. Within AIPAD itself, much of the propulsion for the evolution of the organization and the fair have been our deep well of female founders and gallerists, such as Yancey Richardson, Caroline Wall of Robert Mann, Arnika Dawkins, Andra Russek, Augusta Edwards, and Marina Pellegrini of Galeria Vasari
The Photography Show’s 2024 Exhibitors include:
°CLAIRbyKahn | Zurich, CH
19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop | New York, NY
Arnika Dawkins Gallery | Atlanta, GA
Assembly | Houston, TX
Augusta Edwards Fine Art | London, UK
Baudoin Lebon | Paris, FR
BILDHALLE | Zurich, CH | Amsterdam, NL
Bruce Silverstein Gallery | New York, NY
Candela Gallery | Richmond, VA
Catherine Couturier Gallery | Houston, TX
Cavalier Gallery | New York, NY | Greenwich, CT | Nantucket, MA | Palm Beach, FL 12. Charles Isaacs Photographs, Inc. | New York, NY
CLAMP | New York, NY
Contemporary Works/Vintage Works | Chalfont, PA
Daniel / Oliver Gallery | Brooklyn, NY
Danziger Gallery | New York, NY
Deborah Bell Photographs | New York, NY
Edwynn Houk Gallery | New York, NY
ELLEPHANT | Montreal, CAN
Etherton Gallery | Tucson, AZ
Fisheye Gallery | Paris, FR | Arles, FR
Foto Relevance | Houston, TX
Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière | Paris, FR
Galerie Esther Woerdehoff | Paris, FR
Galerie Johannes Faber | Vienna, AT
Galerie Olivier Waltman | Paris, FR
Galerie SIT DOWN | Paris, FR
Galerie XII | Santa Monica, CA
Gallery 270 | Bergen, NJ
Gitterman Gallery | New York, NY
Grob Gallery | Geneva, CH
HackelBury Fine Art | London, UK
Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc. | New York, NY
Higher Pictures | Brooklyn, NY
Holden Luntz Gallery | Palm Beach, FL
Howard Greenberg Gallery | New York, NY
IBASHO | Antwerp, BE
Ilaria Quadrani Fine Arts | New York, NY
Ippodo Gallery | New York, NY
Jackson Fine Art | Atlanta, GA
jdc Fine Art | San Diego, CA42. Joseph Bellows Gallery | Santa Monica, CA
Keith de Lellis Gallery | New York, NY
La Galerie de l’Instant | Paris, FR
Laurence Miller Gallery | New York, NY
Les Douches la Galerie | Paris, FR
Magnum Photos Gallery | Paris, FR | London, UK
Marshall Gallery | Los Angeles, CA
Michael Hoppen Gallery | London, UK
Michael Shapiro Photographs | Westport, CT
MIYAKO YOSHINAGA | New York, NY
MOMENTUM | Miami, FL
Monroe Gallery of Photography | Santa Fe, NM
Nailya Alexander Gallery | New York, NY
Obscura Gallery | Santa Fe, NM
PACI contemporary | Brescia, IT
Paul M. Hertzmann, Inc. | San Francisco, CA
Peter Fetterman Gallery | Los Angeles, CA
Photo Discovery | Paris, FR
RocíoSantaCruz | Barcelona, ES
Robert Klein Gallery | Boston, MA
Robert Koch Gallery | San Francisco, CA
Robert Mann Gallery | New York, NY
Scheinbaum & Russek LTD | Santa Fe, NM
Scott Nichols Gallery | Sonoma, CA
Staley-Wise Gallery | New York, NY
Stephen Bulger Gallery | Toronto, CA
Stephen Daiter Gallery | Chicago, IL
The Hulett Collection | Tulsa, OK
The Third Gallery Aya | Osaka, JPN
Throckmorton Fine Art | New York, NY
Todd Webb Archive | Portland, ME
Toluca Fine Art | Paris, FR
Vasari | Buenos Aires, ARG
Von Lintel Gallery | Santa Monica, CA
Weinstein Hammons Gallery | Minneapolis, MN
Yancey Richardson Gallery | New York, NY