Curator of Contemporary Art / Associate Curator, Open Data Institute
Choosing 6 to focus on was the challenge I hoped it might be. I was looking to be surprised, taken aback or provoked. I was particularly interested in photographers who were engaging critically with the status of the image or the photograph. I also like work that has a strong feeling for the materials it's made with. Either through technical mastery, technical irreverence or wilful subversion. It was of course tricky to appreciate this viewing online - a good reminder of the significance of the material qualities of photographs, however they've been created. I appreciated the way that most students have identified subjects they might make their own, though in some personal statements the spectre of 'artspeak' reared its incomprehensible head. So it's worth noting that some of the more straightforward statements were often the most powerful.
University of Westminster - MA Documentary Photography & Photojournalism
Selector's Comment: Grosso's series about displaced people don't have any people in them. Cars creaking under the weight of large furniture, white goods, mattresses and toys fill the frames. The composition enhances the sculptural qualities of these extraordinary balancing acts. Some of the piles look impossible; the ability of families' worldly goods to sustain the journey is entirely in the gift of strategically placed rounds of string. There is little 'other' here. This is stuff. We all have stuff. Our stuff is what in many ways defines us and makes us feel we are at home.
Selector's Comment: Hammond's striking works caught my interest with her considered use of referencing and layering. It's too easy to create imagery that simply duplicates the visual cacophony of our media saturated environment. She avoids this trap by methodically following a line of thought that slips intriguingly between object, image and architecture. Her combinations of flat stretches of (fabulous blue) colour with more organic forms that could be natural, or could have been constructed by the artist, create a sense of provocative uncertainty. Her work raises interesting questions about the histories and potential futures of the material world.
Selector's Comment: Milo Newman's photographs relocate the tradition of landscape from terra firma to the vastness of (here) unidentified skies. Nothing other than his verbal description tells us we are looking at geese in flight. The birds are reduced to the most basic strands of dots and dashes. They look like marks made by a loosely held pen, or a disobediently skittish dotmatrix printer. Reminiscent of the Latvian American painter Vija Celmins, who works from photographs, his simple images suggest a complex and repeating pattern of life, which poetically moves beyond representation of 'likeness' to a new way of considering the life-like.
Selector's Comment: Orton's personal vocabulary of actions, caught-in-the-act photographs, found photographs and images of the natural world offer different classifications to those we have become accustomed to. The human is no longer the superior observer of the Victorian taxonomist, but an active participant, subject, prosthetic even, of the natural world. Having a long-term working interest in Museum environments, which are heavily defined by early classifications between disciplines, species and art forms, these works really struck a chord with me. I also thought her text was one of the most successful at communicating a complex idea without over-simplifying or over-complicating it.
Selector's Comment: Quigley throws the tradition of reverently capturing disappearing cultures out the window. Her joyfully irreverent super-neon interventions propel tightly contained domestic interiors of Irish old into the present moment. The neon balls of wool, suspended in the space and time of a long defunct range, give the clearest sense of the artist as performer and mischievous provocateur. I love the way she turns seeming abject degradation and misery into celebratory acts that could be called vandalism, if they weren't so clearly produced as acts of creativity.
Goldsmiths University of London - MA Photography: the Image and Electronic Arts
Selector's Comment: 'Known criminals' have been subjects of photography since its earliest days, from rogues galleries to more 'scientific' typecasting. The main subject of Schönstädt's full frontal facial portraits of perpetrators is clearly the depth of the face on its own terms. Her subjects are defined by their own unique features without any other framing or homogenising device, not even clothes. Even their chins and foreheads are by-passed. The project includes interviews and biographies of the participants, but on the photographs alone you can 'read' evidence of the time she has invested in the relationships. This carries out to the viewer.
Hannah Redler is a contemporary art curator and museum professional, working with international artists and organisations on projects engaging with science, technology, new media and photography. She is currently combining independent projects and teaching with her role as Associate Curator for the Open Data Institute founded (by Sir Tim Berners Lee and Prof Nigel Shadbolt) to catalyse open data culture. From 2005 - 2014 Hannah was Head of Science Museum Arts Programme, having been art curator from 1999 - 2004. There she commissioned works across arts forms, for gallery interventions, residencies, events and art exhibitions. In 2012 her role was promoted to also lead the inaugural curatorial programme for Media Space, which opened in 2012 showcasing the National Photography Collection. Hannah started her museum career at the National Media Museum in the late 1990s and is a trustee of the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation.