Exhibits photography on paper, in galleries and online.
Last year, I had the pleasure to interview Allison White the Editor-in-Chief of Latent Image Magazine on the occasion of the 10th anniversary issue. Today, I am talking again to Allison about Latent Image Magazine next project – an exhibition in The Gam Gallery in Vancouver, Canada.
In your first interview you told us about Latent Image Magazine commitment to giving visibility to the work of emerging photographer’s on the pages of the Latent Image Magazine and in curated exhibitions.
Tell us about curation? How do you approach a pile of work that ends up on your editor desk?
Organising the pile of work on my desk, and actually curation are often two separate beasts. Magazine submissions are continuous, so I always respond as they arrive, but I file them for each issue intake (which at this point is 3 times per year). If I don’t address e-mails as they come in, things get out of hand.
After our intake deadlines, I go through the submissions and narrow them down further. If there is a submission I am not overly keen on I will file it to show to co-publisher, Nicole (Langdon-Davies). At this point we both know what we like, so that’s easier to decide on submissions. If a photo essay is borderline, she is always good at pointing out things I don’t always see, or looking at the image from a more technical perspective. We don’t always agree, but I think that’s what makes the magazine distinct.
After our intake deadlines, I contact the photographers, and then start to put the layout together. The final completed proof arrives and I go through it and often make small changes before its made public.
Logistics aside, most of the curation comes in putting together a proper flow from one photo set to the next. This is the hardest part of each issue. Some of it is technical, things that probably wouldn’t bother the average reader who is just flipping through, but I try to make the flow so you’re not seeing the same type of image or subject back-to-back.
If I had more of a graphic design background, I could try to be fancier with the layout, but for now I keep it relatively simple.
How does curating differ between the magazine, a photography exhibition, Instagram or at the museum, where you work?
Work at the museum is easier in a sense as we are governed under a mandate for a certain point in history and I work within a specific collection. This is both a blessing and curse. I deal in themes, then objects, then archival documents and then text writing.
You are a photographer and a curator – how do both activities work for you?
In similar capacities. I’m attracted to light and how it’s used and also to images that cause me to do a double take. In my own work, mainly in architecture, it’s about how light is reflected. Capturing that is my goal. With portraits or specific series’ I try to think more thematically, about revealing truths or contemplating the reoccurring images we’ve been exposed to impact our psyche. This is mainly in reference to a specific series I’m working on currently called The Undomesticated Domestic. For simple portraits, I’m always fascinated by contrasts and shadows.
As a curator I’m attracted to stories: both in my museum life and for the magazine. If I can’t make sense of a story, I find it difficult. This is why I always insist on titles, captions or text. I know others disagree (especially in photography) but I believe they are important. Even nonsensical ones make a point.
Behind both the magazine and the exhibition are two women, yourself as Editor-in-Chief and Nicole Langdon-Davies. In that sense, I would like to ask you if you try to stand out as curators with a distinct female signature.
I don’t think we try overtly to stand out as distinctly female curators, yet it is inherent. One of our idols is Cindy Sherman, and we both believe in the reassertion of women’s identity and the idea of a different kind of beauty that is less artificial. The female gaze is something we are seeing more and more in photography, film, along of with social media and it’s hopefully breaking down this construct that beauty only exists if Photoshop perfect.
I was asked once (during our first year of publication), if we “Only published art nudes”, and that question really took me by surprise. I think people often conflate nude and naked, which are very different. Often we do publish art nude photography, but the majority of it comes from other female photographers and that is important to us. We are bored of the repeated image of woman in front of a white wall (nude, clothed or otherwise) – unless it’s said in a way to deconstruct itself.
Tell us about the upcoming exhibition. What should we expect?
This exhibit is curated by Latent Image Magazine and co-presented by ADSR music collective. The theme, “Compartments: an alternative perspective on the spaces we visit” will display artwork no larger 6×8 inches. The pop-up photography exhibit will feature work from Vancouver artists and international photographers, with music from local DJs.
Originally it started a bit tongue-in-cheek, with us thinking due to the tiny apartments most of us inhabit in Vancouver we should make art available to fit these spaces. Then once we started mulling over the word “Compartments” and what that means it took on another life. It’s been really interesting to see what people have come up with – both in the images themselves but also in the framing and mounting.