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Final Major Project: Encounters: Photography and Curation, Photographer’s Gallery 2nd June 201

Notes for future reference and consideration from the symposium.


Panel one – Histories and Institutions

  • Sara Knelman (independent curator and writer)

  • Shoair Mavlian (Director, Photoworks)

  • Karen McQuaid (Senior Curator, The Photographers’ Gallery)

  • Renée Mussai (Senior Curator, Autograph ABP).

Panel two – Encounters

  • Tim Clark (Curator and Founding Editor, 1000 Words)

  • Lucy Moore (Director, Claire de Rouen Books)

  • Katrina Sluis (Curator, Digital Programme, The Photographers’ Gallery and Senior Lecturer, LSBU)

  • Lars Willumeit (independent curator, writer, and editor).

Keynote Speech – David Campany and Sara Knelman working on a book on the history of curation/exhibition of photography.

  • Photography curation is not widely discussed.

  • Photography is a fluid medium. It has qualities that no other medium has. In some respects, it sits outside of art in how it is disseminated.

  • Different perspectives of exhibition making and curation

  • Visitor experience important

  • Accessible to a wider audience

  • Appreciate photography’s ability to adapt to different space


Their observations –

  • exhibitions generate multiple and contradictory encounters with photographic images = confusion

  • Tate Modern 2003 – Cruel and Tender

  • Deal with confusion – work on show/exhibition design/advertising

  • spaces of exhibition encourage new and distinct photographic forms – walls are not a photograph’s first choice for display – pc screen or the printed page are perhaps more appropriate?

  • Photos need to expand and enlarge to fill white walls and rooms

  • photography has the ability to change and enlarge in size – very important

  • scale engenders encounters

  • exhibitions are ‘frames` but they are also objects

  • extremely dependent on installation views – not only of images on show but also on the documentation photographs of them

  • reviews do not give a measure of what is going on – do people double back and talk to each other etc?

  • How do they move within spaces?

  • curating – choose really good work and don’t mess it up

Other notes:

  • academic context – photography has a dispersed nature – photos inhabit whatever space or form you give them –  it fits wherever it is placed.

  • don’t need to think about shifts in scale or materiality during making – you can change the size and surface once made, unlike art – where you have to consider this at the outset.

  • The viewer knows that they are looking at a choice about how the photo is presented

  • Presentation is a key aspect of the work – photographers are their own curators

  • Presentation is the architectural configuration of how the images work together etc.

  • Photography can be considered a specialism by some but not by others

  • Using images and text together can create a conversation.

  • Whose eyes are behind the camera, whose eyes are looking, whose eyes curate the images

  • Can plan an exhibition but should allow time for things to happen naturally – things happen – decisions made during the installation period. Draw up plans before installation as a guide – flat plans, sketch up, illustrator

  • Can you be too loyal to the medium of photography? Need to look at it in terms of other mediums at the same time, artists work across different mediums, so much work still to be done with photography – missing chapters to be filled in art history in relation to photography – all art mediums are different

  • Intersections between photographic and text mediums – consider these

  • photography butts up to other mediums – think wider than photography

  • photography is lots of things and it is ok to be lots of things – changing culture in some institutions

  • There is no need to be a big boundary between photography vs “art”

  • pair with others – get different audiences

  • some audiences ignore or are not aware of the dichotomy of medium

  • conversation that the work triggers

  • Barthes — singular vs plural – movement of forms through media, education etc.

  • Curate – choose transit of artwork from one form to another

  • Photography is the most light-footed medium

  • digital curation opens up audiences of work.

  • cognitive capitalism consumers value correlation – neurolinguistic and photographic

  • global knowledge centralises on the visual

  • what is at stake?

  • analyse holistically and systematically

  • consent and non-consent for use of images – not aware of new contexts – fictional narrative

  • machines with taste? machine curation

  • automating aesthetics

  • you think your photos are so unique, but everyone takes photos like you – reverse search through google images

#FracturedIdentities #June2018

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