TalkSeePhotography January 2016


Aside from our usual program TalkSeePhotography will 2016 dedicate a number of events to the developments of existing and emerging cultures of Photography in Scotland to explore approaches to commissioning and presenting photography in Scotland.

Issues that we will address are during the year are: What relevance do questions of discourse have to makers? How is it informed/reinformed? What can uphold or challenge it?  What’s the role of the institutions, the audiences and the makers/writers and how may we create dynamic and productive interfaces for discursive engagement between these parts? As a development of this discussion we will also run a programed incubator series with dialogues on contemporary critical discourse relating to photography and fine art practice between emerging and established critical thinkers, theorists, writers artists and some open calls on which the content will be announced later.

There was a late program  change for this event which initially had scheduled Nuno Sacramento and  Deirdre McKenna to have a conversation as Nuno has come down with a bad infectious pneumonia and needed to rest.

However: In alignment with our plan to examine developments in cultures of Photography in Scotland,  Deirdre MacKenna, instead initiated this year with a presentation of her experience at the heart of the Scottish photography’s institutional scene from the 2002 and forward to get the much needed conversations started.

McKenna has vast experience of devising and commissioning residencies and exhibitions programs for institutions at the heart of the Scottish scene, so having her as our first guest in approaching questions of infrastructure, influence and dialogue proved very useful. The event was attended by 31 persons and many of the questions that came up were  about representation, why is the Scottish scene so white? What possibilities are there to create a lasting institutional change which reflects all the people of Scotland? Can or can not a new national scene for photography make this happen or is it more likely to repeat existing power structures? What chances are there for a photography gallery or institution to survive at all as younger generations increasingly consume  imagery digitally and how is it possible to reach new audiences?

This will be an ongoing, iterative dialogue. Please think of these things, infomor yourselves and come along with your opinion to the next event.  Everyone’s input is important in order to form a grassroots-based discourse and influence the development of the scene.

Founding Curator of DJCAD Exhibitions (1994-2001), Director of Stills, Edinburgh (2002-13) and founding Director of Scotlandmigration and Cultural Documents, Deirdre MacKenna is doctoral candidate at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee, researching the potential of durational cultural programmes in stimulating sense-making and awareness of context.