The pioneering contemporary self-portraitist reflects on his life’s work as a major, touring retrospective of his work opens in Huis Marseille this month.
“A photographer is not a hero. He has no great desire to be there at the end of the world to document the most important, the most interesting and the hardest things. A photographer is not a hero.” Boris Mikhailov
Maison Européenne de la Photographie’s latest exhibition proposes an alternative history of photography – told through the lens of love
Succeeding the museum’s founding director, Jean-Luc Monterosso, Simon Baker plans to open up both its collection and its programme to audiences, carving out a space for emerging artists, fashion photography, ideas on geography, and newer names to the city’s rich artistic ecosystem. “We have to think about what isn’t being done in the photographic landscape in France,” he explains. “We really want to support younger artists – particularly with solo shows. While there are amazing fairs and group shows, that’s something that’s been missing.”
What better way to start, then, than with a solo exhibition by Coco Capitán? Since she graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2016, the 26-year-old Spanish artist has become a never-predictable presence. Her work is always dynamic and often playful, but underpinned by a precision and a poignancy too – whether created for, and thanks to fashion, such as her ongoing artistic collaboration with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele, or her diverse self-initiated series comprising text and paint along with traditional photography.
When he joined Tate Modern in 2009 he was Tate’s very first photography curator – but now Simon Baker is on the move, succeeding Jean-Luc Monterosso as the director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Monterosso, who founded the MEP back in 1996, will leave the institution on 31 March. The news comes just weeks after Shoair Mavlian, assistant curator at Tate Modern, announced she was leaving the institution to become Photoworks’ new director. In October 2017 Kate Bush joined Tate Britain as its adjunct curator of photography, however, responsible for “researching and building the collection of British photography and curating exhibitions and displays”. In September 2017, Tate announced that it had acquired Martin Parr’s 12,000-strong photobook collection, making it one of the leading institutional collectors in this field.