Monday, 25 June 2012

Photo-Soup: Disseminating work outside mainstream curatorial agendas

On this occasion we present Photo-Soup, a collective founded in 2009 by photographers from all nationalities. Photo-Soup is a collaborative project that allows artists to disseminate their work and ideas without the necessity to fit mainstream curatorial agendas. They have organized exhibitions around the UK and elsewhere. Their latest exhibition at Unit-24 in London presented the work of 12 emerging photographers working on a verity of subjects. We had the opportunity to ask them a few questions about how they work and what their objectives as a collective are. We hope you enjoy it.

Centrepoint Collective. Where does the collective name emerge from?

Photo-Soup. While planning our first show we were brainstorming and I can't really remember exactly how it went but I think Gianni said something about a 'minestrone' or something like that, where you mix all the ingredients in order to achieve something exquisite, then the idea of a big soup came about, so we just loved it: Photo-Soup

Why did you form the collective?
The project started as a collective just because any group of people that do something together call themselves a 'collective' though it is funny how many collectives (that don't last more than months) form every day all over the world, I guess it is kind of trendy to say you take part in a collective. However,  we don't see ourselves as a collective, we like to think of Photo-Soup as a collaborative project where everyone who takes part adds a little, from artists to gallery owners and people helping us with video documentaries, graphics, web design, etc.

To answer your question, I would say we started working this way because it made our lives easier, not only we were summing up the photographic talents of the participants but also helping each other in terms of promotion and realisation of the show we worked on.

While in some photo collectives the number of members is restricted to just a few, in others it is constantly expanding in terms of participants, have you got any settled rules or agreements in terms of how many people are to be involved?

Not really, anyone can join as long as they respect and share the collaborative nature of the way we work.

Are all the people involved based in the same country?

No, although most of us met and work in London, we have people based in Spain, Venezuela, Italy, Mexico and Holland. We really aim to have an international lineup and scope.

What are the aims and objectives of the collective?

Back when we started our first motto said something like: '… our aim is to change the focus of contemporary art in order to re-connect with the wider audience and not just the art world…' Then as we kept organising shows we kind of struggled to find the formal words to label what we were doing, it was something very interesting but we couldn't really point what it was. It was after a few meetings and submitting proposals in many places that we started to get some feedback highlighting how anti-curatorial our project was. 

Then it all became very obvious: we are providing a platform for artists to show their work and ideas without  the need to conform or restrict themselves to mainstream curatorial agendas. Sometimes the opportunities to show work are so limiting that you have to do work that addresses certain issues or fits within certain themes (such as Identity, Gender, The Digital Image, Archives, etc.);  you have to photograph in a certain style (Straight, Typological, Tableau, etc.) or you have to be seen to fit in with a certain curatorial agenda based on national or geographic interpretations of photography (Chinese, African, European). 

We are leaving all that behind, we want to challenge the roll of the curator today and offer an alternative that allows work to be seen differently.

Do you think that the collective functions as a platform to promote each member's personal career?

Yes definitely, but also promotes the project on its own terms.

What kind of collective are you: agency type with a strong interest to approach potential clients or a more curatorial and exhibition interests?

Exhibition and dissemination of work !

What are the criteria you use when selecting a space to present work?  Are you particular about the spaces you choose to exhibit?  And also, how do you adapt to those spaces?

So far we have organised exhibitions in a variety of places, in a post-war bunker, cultural venues and even traditional project spaces or galleries. I would say that what we look for in a venue is that it has a lot of space, so we can work in a way that we are comfortable, offering Artists enough space to present their work as they want. 

We often work with large scale photographs and projections so we need big walls. We always respond to the space, we try to create a journey for visitors, juxtaposing and linking the work in a way that sometimes feels smooth but in others surprises you.

Do you invite external collaboration into a project at all?

Yes anyone who takes part on our project brings things to the table. Be it gallery owners, videographers, friends that help promote the show, etc.

As a group, has it been easier to approach institutions and organisations - private and public - supporting photographic projects?

Yes, I think it is always easier to approach institutions and venues when you are a group of people than just yourself.

What projects are you working on currently?

We just had a show in London and we are now working on revamping our website, we are playing with the idea of making some Artwork available for purchase and releasing limited edition prints. We also hope to have another show soon...

Each member’s body of work is different, how do you establish connections between it?

We don't.

Photo-Soup have just put together a catalogue for a limited time which features  work from their latest exhibition at Unit - 24. Here is the link to download it . We hope you enjoy it and thanks for following us !!! more information about them go to:

All moving images © Photo Soup