By Craig Nakano
To Julien Frydman, a new exhibition of decades-old Los Angeles police crime scene photos is not so much a collection of facts in black and white but rather one big ambiguous storm of gray, a trove of stories where truth isn’t a neat circle but rather a shape-shifting cloud open to interpretation.
Co-curated by Frydman with Robin Blackman and Merrick Morton of L.A.-based fototeka, “Unedited! The LAPD Photo Archives” includes more than 80 forensic images taken from the 1920s to 1960s, all culled from more than 1 million pictures archived at the City of Records Center in downtown L.A. The exhibition is one of the draws at Paris Photo Los Angeles, running this weekend in Hollywood.
Frydman, who also is director of the fair, said his “Unedited” selections are not just simple illustrations of crime scenes but rather complex stories, in some cases images in which the police photographer is clearly working to go beyond mere documentation. “You don’t know if it’s real life or film still,” Frydman said. “They have a strong narrative, beautiful aesthetic, multiple layers of perfection.”
The photos also take on new meaning and new context given the setting of Paris Photo: the Paramount Pictures studio lot, with more than 80 exhibitors, artist signings and conversations with curators taking place amid sound stages, fake streets and other forms of the unreal real, Frydman said. “You are in between fiction and reality, which has a lot of to do with photography.”
Jeromy and Matthew, 2011, Columbus, OH from Touching Strangers (Aperture May 2014)
Among the other exhibitors is Aperture, which will show photographs, celebrate 30 years of publishing with Richard Misrach and feature several book signings including projects by Danny Lyon, Richard Renaldi and Mitch Dobrowner. Renaldi’s project, “Touching Strangers,” will be published next month.
Paris Photo Los Angeles begins Friday, April 25, and runs through Sunday, April 27. Tickets can be purchased online here.
Also this weekend, two other photography events of note will be taking place aimed to inspire and reignite. For those wanting to get out of town, head out to the desert for the venerable ninth annual Palm Springs Photo Festival starting Sunday, April 27, through May 2, with one-on-one portfolio reviews, networking events and intense hands-on workshops with master photographers like Greg Gorman, Gregory Heisler and Duane Michals.
Closer to home and just down the street from Paris Photo, check out Photo Independent beginning Friday, April 25, and going through Sunday, April 27, at Raleigh Studios in the heart of Hollywood. Making its inaugural debut, the art fair will feature exhibitors and an opportunity for the photographic community to meet up and exchange ideas on the business and craft of photography with panel discussions and lectures. Highlights include a curated exhibit with Police guitarist and photographer Andy Summers on opening night as well as a panel discussion with noted documentary photographer Doug Menuez on Saturday.