Alison Cooley on “No Looking After the Internet”

by | May 15, 2013 | Photography | 0 comments

Chuffed is a strange Britishism I usually avoid, but in this case it seems entirely appropriate: as part of the “Coming to Encounter” curatorial residency I’ve been engaged in at Gallery TPW R&D over the past year, I commissioned my colleague Alison Cooley to write a critical response to the monthly series of looking groups I’ve been organizing, No Looking After the Internet. Today, her post, which reflects on the first three meetings of the group, went up.

I don’t often get to commission texts from other authors, and in this case it feels humbling to have someone as sharp as Alison being so generous with her feedback and observations. I especially value the way that she has deftly brought together the different power dynamics at play in the group, as well as the viewer’s tendency to fall back on curatorial or artistic authority when the process of looking becomes uncomfortable. As she writes,

Discussions have been by turns halting, enthusiastic, tender, and confrontational. The group dynamics have continually changed between participants, mediated by voices of curatorial and artistic authority. As each meeting has examined a particular set of images related to a concurrent exhibition or project, each encounter with the image has also become an encounter with a curatorial or artistic vision for that image. In our attempts to address and thoughtfully read the images, curatorial hints have been both valuable and impeding, always at risk of distracting us from the task of understanding the space we occupy in relation to the image, and instead giving away factual or historical information, emphasizing curatorial decision-making, or privileging the artist or curator’s set of conjectures.

No Looking still feels very much like a work-in-progress, and I’m grateful for the “regulars” like Alison who have been coming down to the gallery to think (and look) out-loud with me.