“I agree that London and Amsterdam are significant players – along with Paris – within the European photography scene. I feel that right now Amsterdam and London are edgier though than Paris – in the way they engage with photography presenting on the whole a less canonical approach to the medium.”
An Interview With Brett Rogers from The Photographers Gallery @ Unseen
Brett Rogers OBE became Director of The Photographers’ Gallery in November 2005. Prior to her appointment she worked at the Visual Arts Department at the British Council as Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions. During her time there she was responsible for establishing the photography programme and policy for the British Council as well as organising major exhibitions including Anish Kapoor, XLIV Biennale di Venezia, British Pavilion, Venice, 1990; Look at Me: Fashion and Photography in Britain 1960-1997, European touring venues, 1994; Reality Check: British Photography and New Media 2002 – 04, European touring venues, 2004.
BF: Photography is in a very interesting place right now both commercially and in terms of practice. In London, we have new fairs springing up and substantial exhibitions devoted to the medium both at the TATE and The Photographer’s Gallery amongst other venues. Amsterdam with its institutions like FOAM, Huis Marseilles, and the Unseen itself seems to be a sort of sister city to that of London, would you concur that both cities have significant place in the European platform of photography? Why do you believe this?
BR: I agree that London and Amsterdam are significant players – along with Paris – within the European photography scene. I feel that right now Amsterdam and London are edgier though than Paris – in the way they engage with photography presenting on the whole a less canonical approach to the medium. Why might this be so? Perhaps because both Amsterdam and London have a really vibrant young photographers community/student constituency which helps sustain the vitality, which makes the scene in both places feel very engaged and dynamic.
“That is just the beneficial consequences of the global art world – artists born in one country living in another. In choosing artists for our program, there is no underlining ‘smart collaboration’ – more to do with the relevancy of the artist’s practice generally.”
BF: There is a brilliant synthesis between geography, exhibition, and artists also occurring between the cities… Noemie Goudal, Lorenzo Vitturi, again, amongst others are sharing a strong bond between exhibition cities. Is this the beginning of a very smart collaboration or it just happening in terms of artist relevancy?
BR: That is just the beneficial consequences of the global art world – artists born in one country living in another. In choosing artists for our program, there is no underlining ‘smart collaboration’ – more to do with the relevancy of the artist’s practice generally.
BF: Was there any collaboration between TPG and FOAM for the London Swinging Sixties exhibition?
BR: I am afraid there wasn’t though of course I applauded the fact that FOAM was presenting such a show.
BF: I believe that The Photographer’s Gallery Print Sales platform is represented at the fair… it must give an incredible possibility to exhibit works that are fresh, dynamic, and new to the market… would this be the first choice of why the TPG chooses to show there?
BR: TPG is very pleased that UNSEEN began four years ago, offering Europe a new and exciting photography festival. The UNSEEN ethos of exhibiting work that has been created within the past two years means that each year visitors will always discover something new. However the reason that we participate in the fair each year is that UNSEEN has created a fantastic festival atmosphere and is a celebration of photography in all its forms. As a fair it very much reflects the values of the Print Sales Gallery, offering an accessible platform for all levels of collector to find new and interesting work.
BF: If there were one single principle for bringing you back to Amsterdam and Unseen every year, what would it be?
BR: Our Patrons Group whom we bring to UNSEEN each year are always excited to see the new projects at UNSEEN and attend both the VIP and talks program. Even beyond the fair the city of Amsterdam has just so much to offer anyone interested in visual culture/design. For me personally, I love exploring the PhotoBooks area at UNSEEN – as I always manage to find new and inspiring photographers producing the most remarkable new books.
(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm and ASX. Images @ Unseen.)