Working alongside fashion film pioneer, Nick Knight, Carrie Scott is the Director of SHOWstudio’s Shop in London. Here, Carrie curates gallery exhibitions that involve collaborations with artists, fashion designers and creatives. A number of these exhibitions are then broadcast to audiences around the world, revealing the working practice of fashion, fine art and film. We spoke to her ahead of our Curators Conference next week, where we’re proud to have her as one of our fabulous guest speakers…
Portable: How has technology affected curation, especially now that the term is being thrown around so loosely?
Carrie Scott: Because there is so much access to information these days, it is increasingly parceled and packaged together in meaningful and not to mention beautiful ways to help us digest it. And that’s important. But I don’t really think that has affected curation. At least not physically, and I don’t think it’s changed art curation, except for when you think about how new media work has changed museum and gallery spaces. Technology, however, does give me access to artists that I would never have known about. I discover people working in Korea or New Zealand or Timbuktu that haven’t shown in art fairs or major art hubs who’s work is strong and relevant to ideas being explored here.
P: A few years ago I visited SHOWStudio and you were doing a project in which the artist’s process was broadcast over the Internet, with the audience able to ask questions and make suggestions. There’s a lot of this kind of live production visible through ShowStudio. Why do you do this, and how do the specifics of an artistic process inform the curatorial decisions?
Carrie Scott: Nick Knight founded SHOWstudio on the premise that showing the whole creative process was more interesting than only showing the final product. We have pushed that objective most obviously with our Live Studio events, where we invite Designers, Artists, and Musicians into our Bruton Place headquarters for a few days as a sort of residency. They set up their studios and create. It’s wonderful to watch people like Phillip Tracey show how he “does it.” Not only do you get to see how he actually, physically makes things but you also get to see the inner workings of his thought process. It’s a real privilege. And when the final object then goes on display, or the site, the idea is that you appreciate it more because you understand what has gone into it.
P: What are the challenges of artfully curating for the commercial space?
Carrie Scott: I think there’s a big difference between curating the way someone experiences a space and objects within it, and curating someone’s online experience. Online it works to put up a link that is only slightly similar to the content on a page, but in a physical space those connections have to work visually and physically. And the connection has to be both conceptually and aesthetically tight. Sure that’s true in HTML, but online you can change a jpeg to one that works better for the page or you can write a subtitle to explain why you think the content relates to the last bit of content. In a commercial and physical space you don’t have those luxuries. You can’t change the way an artwork looks or the way it changes the way a person moves through a space. And you have to be really careful about taking someone on a physical tangent; in case that tangent happens to take them out the door. That’s really the biggest challenge. But then, I guess that’s true both online and off; you’ve got to keep people’s attention so they don’t leave a site.