'Inside Out Upside Down' opens at The Photographers' Gallery November 11 and is guest curated by Wandering Bears. We spoke to the creative trio about the upcoming show.
PW: Firstly, for those who don’t yet know about Inside Out Upside Down, can you briefly outline the exhibition?
WB: Through the exhibition Inside Out Upside Down we would like to invite the audience to consider the act of the image making process by recreating and responding to the work of fourteen individual artists’ work on display within The Photographers’ Gallery. Using their mobile phones, visitors will have the opportunity to create and photograph their own unique personal interpretations of the artists’ work, printing out the images they produce to complete their own individual takeaway sticker album.
PW: This approach seems to extend exisiting ideas integral to Wandering Bears by bringing them to the gallery. What are your hopes for the exhibition?
WB: A large part of what we do at Wandering Bears is to try and make photography accessible – so hopefully this exhibition offers the audience an opportunity to engage with an aspect of photography they maybe haven’t considered before or felt was something beyond their skill set. Essentially we just hope that people leave the space inspired to make new work and having hopefully interacted with photography in a way they haven’t before.
Perhaps you’re someone who’s main interest in photography lies within portraiture, you can come to the exhibit, discover Fleur van Dodewaard’s work and try interacting with a discipline of photography that you had never considered before. Without taking anything away from the photographers’ work, in fact on the contrary, by responding to and attempting to a re create a Beni Bischoff, you might be surprised at the level of thought and consideration that goes into an image like that, poking your finger through a printed image is harder than it looks.
PW: How did you choose the exhibiting artists?
WB: On a very basic level, these are all artists’ that we really admire and who’s work we appreciate. We went through a shortlist of artist’s work that we liked and tried to identify a balance of images that offered a variety of different working processes for the audience. We have still life & portraiture, images that require balancing, images that require physical contortion and Joshua Citarella’s work which is created though digital editing software.
As time goes on and with each new show we produce it opens up to us a new range and level of photographers, both established and early career artists, so its always very important for us to find a balance of participants that offers a platform for both ends of the spectrum.
PW: Visitors are invited to create new works from the existing work. You mentioned a stickerbook as legacy for these new pieces. Can you speak about how you collating them?
WB: Throughout the show we will be storing and filing all the images the audience capture and send to the printer for the sticker book which are available at the show, so there will be the opportunity to present everybody’s images in some form at the end. It will be really interesting to see all the different interpretations and responses of all the fourteen artist’s work and see which images lead to a more diverse range of interpretations. The one I’m looking forward to the most is Romain Mader’s image, he sent us the original without himself in it, so it will be great to see all the different people who attended the show and interacted with it in that way – hopefully acting as a kind of micro time capsule of that time. Additionally, there is a hashtag for the show – “wbxtpg” – which will allow us to follow visitors submissions that way too, and also open the door to people unable to attend the show and to a wider international reach.
PW: Why do you think photography has been moving towards experiential presentation?
WB: I suppose I don’t feel I’m really qualified to give an accurate answer to this that speaks for photography as a whole, so I can only go on my own experiences and practical development – but I think for me it’s simply comes down to the quantity of images I’ve come to interact with on a daily basis. By this point I can’t even begin to comprehend or quantify the amount of images I come into contact with by 14:00 on a Tuesday let alone in a life time. There is only so much white wall exhibitions and social media imagery that can stimulate, by challenging different ways of presenting photography while tackling the very themes of authorship and image making itself we hope to create an inspiring and individual environment for the audience that hopefully leads them to consider these elements and doesn’t feel like a presentation style which is experimental for the novelty of it, but fits with a larger statement.
PW: Presentations of this kind question how a photograph can be defined and how it’s experienced. Creating work from re-photographing existing work also raises interesting ideas, as you’ve mentioned about authorship. Were these important considerations when you were putting the show together?
WB: These are all themes that really interest us, and it’s something that is always at the core of our work. It’s an aspect of photography that appears to be becoming more and more transparent, authorship becoming more fluid as time goes on.
For me, collaboration can lead to exciting and unforeseen results and for this to happen, you need to relax your perception or at the very least consider your preconceived notion of what authorship is, as collaboration really challenges that, and by doing so it can provide a catalyst for untapped creativity. By enabling an audience to react and build directly on top of your work is is quite a personal and intimate process and for me a very empowering concept. But naturally this isn’t something that every artist is comfortable with, so it was important to approach the right people.
PW: What’s next for Wandering Bears?
WB: We are currently working toward one show / major project per year schedule, so with that in mind, we are currently taking the early initial steps toward a new project for the Autumn next year. We have the concept in mind and we’re just exploring possible avenues for its platform. But in the meantime, we are continuing with our Podcasts, Instagram take overs and also looking to release a new WB Chapter in the Spring. The last few exhibitions we have produced are all something that came directly to us, so as with every new project I am sure we will meet some new faces and make new connections from Inside Out Upside Down – leading to future collaborations. We are always open to new ideas, so do get in touch if you have anything you would like to share with us.
Watch an exclusive video from the exhibition below.
Wandering Bears is a creative studio & photographic led community – A centre for new work, ideas and collaborative projects. Founded in 2010, Wandering Bears organise exhibitions, talks, podcasts and workshops, looking to showcase and collaborate with both emerging and established artists from around the world to create something unique within the photographic community.
Open Door is a curated programme that aims to engage The Photographers’ Gallery’s audiences in the interdisciplinary work of a range of invisible practices, young and emerging individuals, communities and organisations.
It seeks to actively engage and extend our audience’s quality of experience when visiting The Photographers’ Gallery.
Previous organisations and projects include Self Publish, Be Happy, Furtherfield, Miniclick, What We Wore & Thinkers In Residence.
For more information on Inside Out Upside Down click here.
For more from our Ideas Series click here.