Since 2002 Susan Bright has worked as an independent curator for museums and galleries internationally. At the heart of her practice lies a commitment to artists and audiences through continued accessibility to photographic culture. In addition, it is her aim to test curatorial approaches with imagination, intuition and rigour. Featured here are a selection of exhibitions she has curated.
PHotoESPAÑA: ¿Déjà Vu?
Fernán Gómez Centro Cultural De La Villa; Museum Lázaro Galdiano; Museu Del Romanticismo, Madrid, Spain (June 2019 - Sept 2019)
PHotoESPAÑA, the International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts in Madrid, took place between June 5th and September 1st, 2019. In its 22nd year, PHE is one of the longest running and most respected arts festivals in Europe. Invited to be the Guest Curator, my program titled ¿Déjà Vu? featured Elina Brotherus (Finland), Sharon Core (USA), Délio Jasse (Angola), Laura Letinsky (Canada), Patrick Pound (NZ/Aus) and Clare Strand (UK). The artists work with photography by questioning its limitations, functions, expectations, history and legacy.
photos: © Sebastián Bejarano
PLAYGROUND: Elina Brotherus
Serlachius Museum Gustaf, Mänttä, Finland (June 2018 – Jan 2019)
Elina Brotherus is a Finnish artist whose work over the last twenty years has oscillated between rigorous explorations into art history and autobiographical enquiry. She works primarily in photography and video. After an intense period of working through autobiographical life narratives Brotherus turned to Fluxus ‘event scores’ for inspiration. This major exhibition of work made between 2016-2018 was the culmination of Brotherus’s new working method. Often collaborating with Finnish dancer and choreographer Vera Nevanlinna, and sometimes with other colleagues such as Erwin Wurm and VALIE EXPORT, the resulting pictures and videos are humorous and adventurous whilst also questioning the role of the artist, the place of photography and film in performance.
Interview with Elina Brotherus by Susan Bright (video)
photos: © Elina Brotherus
Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography
Co-curated with Denise Wolff
Louisiana Museum of Art and Science, Baton Rouge, USA (June 2018 - Sept 2018) FOAM, Amsterdam (Dec 2018 - March 2019)
C/O Berlin (June 2019 - Sept 2019)
The Photographers' Gallery, London (Oct 2019 - Jan 2020)
Hasselblad Foundation, Göteborg, Sweden (Feb 2020 - May 2020)
The Polygon Gallery, Vancouver, Canada (May 2020 - August 2020)
Akron Art Museum, Ohio (Feb 2021 - June 2021)
Food’s complexity of form and meaning — and the fact that it’s often at hand — has made it a much-photographed subject throughout the history of photography. This exhibition explores how food is represented and its significance through three themes. Still Life, one of the most popular genres in painting, is taken as the starting point. The photographs show how artists have been inspired by the genre and how it has changed from the 19th Century to today. Around the Table looks at rituals and the shaping of cultural identity that takes place around food. Finally, Playing with your Food demonstrates what happens when humour, fun and irony are combined. In addition to the photographs there are a number of cookbooks on display.
photos: © Foam - Christian van der Kooy
Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood
The Photographers’ Gallery and The Foundling Museum, London (Oct 2013 – Jan 2014)
Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), Chicago (April – July 2014)
Belfast Exposed, Belfast, Northern Ireland (Oct 2014 – Jan 2015)
Home Truths featured photographic artworks depicting the experience and symbolism of motherhood in contemporary Western culture. Favouring autobiographical and documentary approaches in art photography of the 2000s, the project drew on feminist precedents in art making and writing. Home Truths negotiated what it means to be a mother in the twenty-first century, grappling with stereotypes, personal expectations and cultural constraints, revealing the maternal self to have both agency and power. The artists featured included: Janine Antoni, Elina Brotherus, Elinor Carucci, Ana Casas Broda, Fred Hüning, Leigh Ledare, Hanna Putz, Katie Murray, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Tierney Gearon, Miyako Ishuichi and Ann Fessler
Interview by The Photographers’ Gallery (video)
Interview by The Foundling Museum (video)
photos: © Kate Elliot, Kai Caemmerer
How We Are: Photographing Britain
Co-curated with Professor Val Williams Tate Britain, London (May-Sept 2007)
How We Are was the first exhibition of British photography at Tate. A survey of photography from the 1850s to the early 2000s with over 500 objects it showcased famous names – Anna Atkins, William Henry Fox Talbot, Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Bill Brandt, Madame Yevonde, and David Bailey among them – but also included postcards, family albums, medical photographs, propaganda and social documents. We strove to include many women photographers and photographers from different cultural backgrounds who are usually underplayed in the history of British photography.
How We Are: Photographing Britain | TateShots (video)
photos: © Softroom
Face of Fashion
National Portrait Gallery, London (Feb-May 2007)
Face of Fashion explored the symbiotic relationship between contemporary portrait photography and fashion. It did not claim to be an encyclopaedic or even a comprehensive survey, but more a probing into the possibilities of portraiture as it appeared in the pages of fashion magazines during the 1990s and early 2000s. Featuring just five international photographers — Corinne Day, Mert & Marcus, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi & Mario Sorrent — the exhibition allowed their individuality to be underscored, but as a collection it was able to highlight the considerable shifts that have marked the world of fashion imagery since the early 1990s.
Designed by Thomas Manss & Company
photos: © Manns & Company