‘I Remember You,’ an Ode to Photography as an Act of Preservation, Opens in Paris

Photography by Vivien Liu. All images courtesy of the artists. 

“I’m a firm believer that the power of an image is everything,” Dr. Isolde Brielmaier says in advance of “I Remember You,” a two-day exhibition debuting tomorrow in Paris, aligning coincidentally with the city's annual Paris Photo fair. The deputy director of the New Museum and guest curator at the International Center for Photography curated the show in collaboration with Apple, a nod to the iPhone's increasing relevance as an instrument in the fine art arena. Featuring five international artists responding to the theme of nostalgia in photography, the show considers the importance of perspective and the intimate emotions that images preserve.

The exhibition is the second collaboration between Brielmaier and Apple following the celebrated fall 2021 show “Inward: Reflections on Interiority,” which explored the significance of photography during the pandemic and in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder the previous year. “Inward” highlighted photography as a form of self-expression and self-determination in an increasingly connected world. 

Photography by Mika Ninagawa.

“I Remember You” further illustrates the power not only of photography, but also of having the ability to create lasting impressions. “Making and sharing images is important for creative expression, and it is also a form of communication,” says Brielmaier. “The show asks what it means to remember and to reflect on who you are in the context of the people, places, and things around you.”

Using the new iPhone 15 Pro Max, which features the product’s most advanced camera yet, each photographer brought to the project their own perspective and background. “The artists straddle multiple spaces; they create artistic work and may also produce editorial and documentary projects. It was important for us that there was a diversity of voices that could converse with one another and touch a broad audience,” adds Brielmaier. 

Photography by Karl Hab.

The creative responses to the theme include Karl Hab’s investigation of how memories can be sparked by details of the world around us, such as neatly stacked chairs outside a café or a bird’s-eye view of Paris where the artist lives. Complementing these works are vibrant, dreamy views of nature by Tokyo-based Mika Ninagawa that consider the need to capture the ephemeral and fragile aspects of life in a post-pandemic world.

Reflecting on the tension between urban development and cultural heritage, for the show Hong Kong-based Vivien Liu created black-and-white images that seek to preserve collective memories of the architecture and visual landscape in the city. Her works feature a character that is part-autobiographical, part inspired by the American photographer Vivian Maier.

Photography by Stefan Ruiz.

“The protagonist is on a quest to revisit and experience the places in my childhood memories,” says Liu. “As urban renewal grows rampant in Hong Kong, the old city fabric is vanishing rapidly. I wish to capture scenes that evoke the nostalgia of growing up in something tangible.”

Also working in portraiture is Brooklyn-based Stefan Ruiz. In intimate images, Ruiz explores how people use clothes, hairstyling, jewelry, and tattoos to connect with communities and portray their identities. “There’s something innocent, slightly awkward, yet genuine about Stefan’s portraits. It speaks to his ability to connect on a human level,” says Brielmaier.

Photography by Malin Fezehai.

The artist, who shot in black and white for "I Remember You," found familiarity in the people he photographs through their shared heritage. “Being of Mexican descent myself, I have always been drawn to Mexican or Latin American subjects as well as identity and navigating life in a clash of cultures,” explains Ruiz. “Photography preserves a time or place. I think in a small way this work preserves cultural and personal moments.”

Eritrean-Swedish Nairobi-based photographer and filmmaker Malin Fezehai echoes Ruiz’s sentiments. Fezehai’s works in the exhibition feature the Australian performer Marawa Ibrahim. Celebrated for her hula hooping and roller-blading on high heels, Marawa’s energy captivated Fezehai. 

“The act of 'preserving experiences' in this series is about capturing the essence of living outside the box,” explains Fezehai. “The camera on the iPhone is a powerful storytelling device, and I hope this will inspire others to realize that you don't need expensive equipment to make meaningful photographs. If you have a story, your phone can be a vehicle to share your unique perspective with the world.”

“I Remember You” will be on view November 10 - 11, 2023 at 14 Rue de la Corderie in Paris.