Mois de la Photo – Off

Text: Aidan Mac Guill for VingtParis

Every two years in Paris the month of November is designated ‘Mois De La Photo’. Of course in Paris it seems like everything eventually gets its own month, or week, or day. In fact I’m fairly sure October was ‘Mois De La Everybody Gets The Flu’, and this writer is considering launching a campaign to make December ‘Mois De La Soul’, a month-long celebration of the early nineties hip-hop pioneers.

Anyway, right now Paris is the world capital of photography, with exhibitions, discussions, workshops and parties being held by institutions like the Maison Européenne De La Photographie, the Jeu De Paume, the BNF and the Fondation Cartier, as well as countless galleries scattered across the city. It’s a chance for photographers to exhibit, learn and network, and for the curious passer-by to enjoy extraordinary images from around the world.

Of course no self-respecting festival is complete without its strange, unsettling and often more interesting twin brother – the fringe. So running parallel to ‘Mois De La Photo’ is the ‘Mois De La Photo – Off’. The aim of ‘Mois Off’ is to provide a showcase for emerging and “unconventional” photographers neglected by the main festival, with exhibitions in young, unknown galleries or in unexpected public places. Over 100 shows will eventually be held around the city and it’s suburbs.

Of course the problem with organizing so many shows in tiny, unknown galleries is finding out what’s on and how to get there. The organisers have tackled this problem by embracing the brave new world of social networking.
On its website the programme has been divided into 10 ‘routes’ that will direct you to shows that are located nearby to each other. Guided tours of the routes and a special ‘night route’ will be organised to allow visitors to meet with the photographers and gallery owners. Details of these will appear on the festival’s Twitter feed, as well as their Facebook page.
There is a mobile version of the site for your iPhone, with information and directions via Google Maps on how to get to shows. As well as all that there are 10,000 good old-fashioned programmes available free in galleries and shops around Paris. There’s also a bunch of Flickr pages where users can upload their own photos of their ‘Mois Off’ experience, creating an satisfyingly meta online exhibition within the exhibition.

So get online now and don’t miss your chance to discover some new galleries, check out the next big thing in the photography world, or at least score some free wine at a vernissage.

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