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Episode 17: Iris Sikking was an absolute delight to speak with. I had the good fortune to meet with her during her curatorial guesting of Photomonth Krakow (2018).
Her curatorial project Space of Flows was exhibited in multiple venues across the city of Krakow and drew from the Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells concept of open network societies . Castells in his book The Rise of Network Society (1996) considered how the notion of open and borderless networks would become the wave of the near future. Published in 1996 and on the cusp of true internet connectivity, Castells can be seen as something of a prodigious thinker in terms to how we live today.
Iris in her curatorial role decided to look back and use Castells work as a way to interpret his ideas in the present and to see how his theories had developed in art and society at large. The exhibition in Krakow hosted a number of brilliant minds working in different subsets of the photographic medium with a prominent dialogue regarding documentary practice.
Since that exhibition, Iris and I have stayed in touch and I was very fortunate to interview her for American Suburb X with Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger for their book entitled Why Exhibit? Positions on Exhibiting Photographies (2018, FW: Books). The book is one of the very few to address the idea of how we curate photography in its multitude and is considered in my mind to be the first medium-specific book of importance on the matter. There have been a few since, but overall this is the book that should be added to curriculums.
What strikes me as interesting about Iris is not only her dedication to curation, but also her broader approach to how the mediums of both film and photography can be challenged and how we can shape often complex narratives from the material that we wish to publish or exhibit. It is my contention that Iris has presented numerous questions about how we consider our roles within photography and its exhibition format. Her background in editing and film has most certainly been key in forming this position.
In summary, the episode presented here offers much food for thought on a variety of topics and is refreshing in its delivery. We speak a bit about academia and how the concepts of how exhibitions and dialogues surrounding photography must be put into a context that reaches a more broad audience. We speak about effective ways to nurture that possibility, without disregard for the complex material that we are speaking about. This will be of use to artists and young curators and it is my hope that see many more volumes come from Iris & C0.