PICTURE PERFECT, PART I
This year’s issues investigate the practice of exhibiting camera-based art, both from the institutional and artistic perspectives. Through interviews and conversations with directors, artists, and curators, we look at current exhibition strategies and discuss how to move forward.
Just before this issue went to press, I saw two lens-based exhibitions in new alternative spaces for contemporary art in Paris. One was at the charming Plac'Art Photo, a tiny book shop and gallery, which presented photographs on every wall from Swedish artist Hannah Modigh’s books. At Carreau du Temple, French artists Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet were presenting their 2009 film Un projet important as part of the ninth edition of the video program Videobox, this in a permanent space dedicated to video art located in a locker room in the basement of the old market hall—an unconventional place to experience art.
In order to see where exhibitions are heading, we can learn from looking back. Florian Ebner, curator of photography at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, talks in this issue about the museum’s latest re-arrangement of its permanent collection, which involved recreating rooms from the Musée du Luxembourg and Musée Jeu du Paume as they were in the 1920s and ’30s. While at the time there was no avant-garde photography in these collections—holdings that later devolved to the Pompidou—exhibitions of experimental photo- graphy took place all over the city, and Pompidou tries to reconstitute them too. In this way, Ebner and his colleagues hope to restore the missing links to the museum, to think about past events in context as a way of imagining new futures.
The new director of Fotogalleriet in Oslo, Italian curator Antonio Cataldo, is optimistic about the future, stating that the potential of art is to look ahead with great freedom and to break away from normative ways of perceiving the world. In his view, exhibitions are powerful mediators of discourse. They are places where one can stop simply using images, and instead meet and interact with them in a more playful way, which leads to a renewed understanding of what one sees.
The upcoming publication Why exhibit? focuses on how exhibitions of photo-based art can be the starting point for such intellectual and emotional knowledge production. We talk with the book’s editors, Anna Kaisa Rastenberger and Iris Sikking, and also present an extract from its pages. Doris Gassert, research curator at Fotomuseum Winterthur, is writing an essay for Why exhibit? titled On Strategies of Artistic and Curatorial De/stabilization, about the museum’s online program SITUATIONS, and has shared some of her research with us.
Several of the directors and curators interviewed stress the importance of exhibiting more female artists. Nadine Wietlisbach, also from the Fotomuseum Winterthur, explains how a generation of women photographers and artists have never been presented at the museum. It is part of her mission to identify those who deserve more visibility. Wietlisbach will exhibit both Sophie Calle and Anne Collier next year, and we’re pleased to include a picture essay from Collier in this issue. Other pictures featured are by Anouk Kruithof and Marysia Lewandowska, who also share their thoughts with us. Additionally, we present a series from the 2016 book L’Heure du Tigre (Tiger Time) by Jonathan Llense.
Ruby Paloma discusses her practice as an alternative curator with Ina Hagen from the experimental gallery space Louise Dany in Oslo, while Norwegian photographer Linn Pedersen talks about her relationship to the white cube. In a conversation with fellow Norwegian artist Ola Rindal, Pedersen explains that since so much of the process of preparing for an exhibition is slow and controlled, she likes to add a more spontaneous element during the installation through the harmonisation with her sculptural works. Travis Diehl writes about the recent ‘sculptural turn’ in photography in terms of artists’ anxiety that photography isn’t enough in this accelerated age, and therefore must be extruded into three dimensions. He investigates his thesis through interviews with the artists Carter Mull and Marina Pinksy. This is what we’ve gathered for this first issue on the subject of exhibition practices. Part II will be out in November.
Nina Strand, editor in chief.