Photo News – Brighton-based art photographer pulls film from East Sussex Open 2014 exhibition

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WHERE’S WENDY PYE’S FILM?
Last week, I was at the East Sussex Open 2014 running until 15 September (open submission visual art competition with judged selection) at The Towner Gallery in Eastbourne for the private view. En route to the show I came across a number of slips of paper stuck to bus shelters, a phone box and a tree.  At the opening, I saw an invigilator picking up similar pieces of paper from the floor next to a cordoned-off installation. Later, whilst talking to filmmaker Andrew Kötting and his daughter Eden about her paintings in the show, Andrew opened a book with the same slip of paper enclosed within it.

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It read: Where’s Wendy Pye’s Film?
On the reverse was a website URL: http://wendypye.wordpress.com

Towner6I came home, typed in the URL and found a blog post relating to her submission to the Towner Open 2014. It appears that her film Six Feet from the Edge was selected for the show but that despite repeated efforts (numerous emails sent by the artist from 28 March through to 2 May and beyond with two phone calls) to discuss how it would be viewed (a vital concern for the creator of the work) she learned that the curatorial team had decided to show the film on a screen with headphones.

Why did the curator fail to respond to any of Wendy’s repeated emails and phone call requests to discuss the work until it was too late and she had no choice but to withdraw her film just before the opening? There is also the question of how filmmakers/artists’ work gets shown in open shows and the extent to which compromises can be made by the creators of such work, without seriously impacting on the viewing experience. It is interesting to note also that Andrew’s film was shown in a sealed-off dark cube, built, I would imagine, by the Towner technical team. Did he make a similar request as Wendy when he submitted his work? Did he request ‘ideal’, as she states she did, or ‘essential’ for the viewing of his work?

She writes: “This experience has left me feeling confused about the role of the curator and I have a few questions:

  • Do curators in public galleries have a responsibility for the artists they are exhibiting and their work? 
  • If curators choose not to have a discussion with the artist for e.g about the viewing experience of moving image work, should they be concerned how their curatorial choices may affect the art work and perhaps reconfigure it?

I leave you with some photos from the opening and a link to Wendy Pye’s blog post in its entirety. I will respond with some more thoughts in a day or so. Till then.

All iPhone photos ©Miranda Gavin

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