I loved Karen McQuaid’s talk, she was informative and had a great way of presenting herself and her work. She talked first of her journey into her position of curator of The Photographers Gallery. I felt connected to the talk in the way that McQuaid detailed, instead of her successes, her failings and the lessons she learnt from the knock-backs and occurring within her way from university to current day working.
I won’t detail them here, but I found it fascinating just how much mistakes and fallbacks can accelerate your learning curve when faced with an industry that at times, feels very unforgiving, but Karen talked of them gracefully and actually with a lot of ease.
In things mentioned such as creating work that is robust enough to stand the full length of an exhibition and how in gallery spaces every detail must be accounted for, I realised that curation of imagery and working within this side of the industry had never really occurred to me prior to this talk.
The way of working and thinking and including both respect to the photographer who’s work you’re displaying and an integrity of how you feel the work would be best displayed is a fine line to walk, and definitely one of skill. Karen mentioned that when she was curating and putting together work that included artists that have died, she feels slightly more tentative, as the input of the representation of their own images is not so present.
Another interesting point that Karen made was one on the idea of trusting yourself as a creative and actually trusting the people around you who asked you to take on a job. In one instance she admits that she didn’t feel ready for a job, however the person making ‘a stand’ for her within her job so strongly believed she could do. Take confidence in their trust of you!
I found her interest in many areas of photography quite inspiring, and further research shows that she says ‘I can’t really get behind the idea that one sub-category of art or photography is more ‘captivating’ than the other.’ I think I find this quote actually quite reassuring, but perhaps not in a way that is obvious at first. I struggle to narrow down my practise to one genre of photography, and I find many genres inspire me, so at this level, I think it’s a good idea to keep an open mind in moving forward. I also feel that this is a perfect standpoint for a curator to be in, as this means the work that gets shown doesn’t sway too much towards certain bias within the genres of photography.