Interview with Niamh White
14 mar 2014 by Ashton Chandler
Ashton Chandler interviews SHOWstudio Associate Director, Niamh White, to discuss her curatorial methodologies both online and offline, ‘Curated By’ selection, and her picks for upcoming art events this year.
AC: As associate director of SHOWstudio Shop, you curate exhibitions as well as related online programming. You highlighted a couple of SHOWstudio's recent 'SHOWcabinet' exhibitions featuring Una Burke and Iris van Herpen during your term as our Curated By contributor. Can you talk a bit about the curatorial direction you take when curating this focused space and also when selecting coordinating online content?
NW: Over the past fourteen years, SHOWstudio has assembled a wide array of wonderful online content from the world’s best filmmakers, artists, designers, writers and cultural figures. We designed the gallery model for SHOWstudio Shop to reflect this archive and used the idea of a curiosity cabinet as a framework. Our aim is to illuminate the practices of our collaborators by creating installations that shed some light on the influences and inspirations for their works of art or fashion pieces. The online aspect of each show is crucial in giving this insight into creative processes. Whether we broadcast a series of interviews, commission a set of essays on the topic of the show or document the making of an exhibited piece, the online and physical components compliment one another to reveal as much as possible about the pieces on display.
SHOWcabinet: Iris van Herpen, 5 June - 19 July 2013, Image courtesy of SHOWstudio.
AC: On your second day of Curated By, you presented your posts as a formulated mini exhibition entitled "Grey Matter". Could you further explain the conceptual basis behind this and tell us more about your selection of works for it?
NW: Grey Matter was a selection of artworks that treat film and photography as sculptural mediums. It was interesting to me that the pieces I presented for this project would be encountered solely on screen, so I chose works that were originally conceived with this in mind. Many of the pieces reposition photography from a means of depicting sculpture, to actively participating in it. I included work by some incredibly exciting young London based artists including Sophie Clements, Ella McCartney ,Tim A Shaw and Alex Ball. Each of them interrogate the material qualities of sculpture through the immaterial layers involved in created imagery through film and photography.
AC: SHOWstudio and art:i:curate share similar characteristics in that they both work online and offline and across creative sectors. What direction do you see traditional curating practices currently taking as new technologies and concepts continue to develop?
NW: SHOWstudio has been a real trail blazer in integrating new technologies into modes of exhibition display. There are endless possibilities in engaging interactivity, reaching wide ranging and international audiences, and revealing art and fashion on a number of levels. These technologies are becoming more refined and easier to access and I'm sure it will become common practice to see them used in most galleries and museums in a short period of time.
AC: How does working as curator influence your perspective and decisions made in your daily life?
NW: My role is certainly a lifestyle for me. I am constantly visiting shows, researching, trying to find new and exciting projects, and cultivating my own ideas. I'm a visual person, so I like to have art around me but I don't really consider the choices I make in my wardrobe or interiors as an extension of my work. I like to try and take an academic approach to creating exhibitions and communicating art works.
Kate MccGwire, Heave, 2008, Image courtesy of Francis Ware.
AC: What can we expect to see in the SHOWcabinet this year? What art exhibitions are you looking forward to checking out in London in the next few months?
NW: There are a number of very exciting shows coming up at SHOWstudio. We are about to open an exhibition of portraits of William S. Burroughs by the photographer Kate Simon on 14 March. It marks the debut release of her cibachrome portfolio, which includes imagery taken over 20 years between 1975 and 1995. It's a real privilege to be able to show this widely unseen work. Then plans are underway to work with some fantastic designers and artists, but they haven't been announced yet so I'll have to ask you to keep watching SHOWstudio for these projects to be revealed! I'm really looking forward to seeing Phyllida Barlow's Tate commission and her sculpture show at Hauser and Wirth's new set up in Somerset. I'd recommend Maha Malluh at Selma Ferriani gallery and I'm also excited to see new sculpture by Jess Flood Paddock at Carl Freedman gallery in April.
Kate Simon, Life is a Killer. Last Sitting. The Bunker, NYC, 1995, Image courtesy of the artist.