L > R: John (from BSA), Gareth and Tanya
A couple of weeks ago, before my Mac went off to be repaired, I went to the Bank Street Art Gallery in Sheffield to look at Tanya’s Shades of New York exhibition. The exhibition itself was very interesting, though not what I had in mind after seeing the East 100th Street exhibition a few weeks earlier, but that’s a good thing. Two slideshows formed the exhibition, one featured a mostly architectural view on the “city” (rather than specifically being identifiable as New York, at least to my eyes). The other was an abstract slideshow on the New York marathon, taken from above.
The more interesting for me was the architectural view. This featured a number of black and white photographs of the area around East 100th Street, and I was struck by the lack of people in this collection, especially after the earlier exhibition which was almost exclusively of portraits. The slideshow was accompanied by some fairly haunting music which added to a sense of sobriety, of somberness. The other thing that the music achieved was to provide a “flow” to the images as they transition. This is something that I’ve never really considered with my own work, I don’t tend to use slideshows although obviously Change featured the video. It’s something that appears to be gaining popularity though.
The fact that these photographs were drawn from the same overall body of work as East 100th Street proves to me that two completely disparate views can indeed be drawn from the same body of work. The curatorial view is obviously very, very important in order to get the message across. A different curator, with a different message, be that political or whatever, can give completely different meaning to a sequence of photographs. This then ties into my own YOP portfolio, Into the Valley; it wasn’t until very late in the portfolio that I finally decided on the narrative that I was going to give the work. The narrative that I’ve chosen is very different to what I discussed first with Alan and then José, and it was really only Clive’s input that made me see what I have been trying to say all along.
In amongst looking at the exhibitions, there was some very interesting discussion with Tanya, and with John the creative director at the gallery, and with fellow students Stan and another John. Gareth from OCA even joined in later on. Much of the discussion centred around what the Bank Street gallery did, how they decided on what they would display and how to get work in there. Much of what goes on display in the gallery is privately funded; they hire rooms out to students or to people who want to put on their own exhibition. The price of a room was surprisingly little and it might be something to look at in the very near future.
As we were leaving, Gareth asked me the question “how would you feel for somebody else to curate your work?” Well, that’s a difficult question. There needs to be huge amount of trust in the curator and to get that trust you really need to know the curator. Having seen what he did with Tanya’s collection, drawing less upon the people photographs, I’d feel more comfortable, but it must still be a unnerving experience...