Curator Jae Joseph took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his most recent show, The Absence of Presence, by British artist Jennifer Louise. The show appropriately debuted during Fall Fashion Week at Gallery 151 from September 12th-29th. Joseph, who also works at Wallplay, stated his mission is to produce and exhibit innovative and provocative works which convey the diverse narratives of our times- And this show did just that.
ARTE FUSE: Congratulations on curating “The Absence of Presence” by Jennifer Louise at Gallery 151. The work speaks for itself. Can you talk about your background in the arts and what got you interested in curating shows?
Jae: I was drawn to the world of curation through my passion and curiosity to collaborate and produce. For me, it is all about the curator and the artist to inspire and to challenge each other. Sometimes it is also the marriage of academics and aesthetics. My desire is to expand the notion of curating art and through vehicles somewhat unconventional to the norm. Gallery 151 has allowed me to have a platform that showcases multi-disciplinary works. Many artist haven’t embraced their fondest projects, my mission is to assist them in this realization.
AF: What attracted you to Jennifer’s work?
Jae: I grew up in the fashion and textile industry. My early life was immersed in these types of environments both personally and professionally through my experiences working as a runway model and my family business in textiles. Jennifer’s current body of work in this collection displaces the subject of interest in order to create a sense of detachment and ambiguity. Fashion is, perhaps by necessity, in a world of its own-one that only rarely overlaps with anything in real life. What never ceases to peak my interest however is the material use of visual art and its placement in fashion. Every single time it’s done, it absolutely blows my mind when the creatives of the fashion world take note of the works of contemporary, modern, impressionist, and many other styles of artists and form intricate designs based on them.
AF: What is your favorite painting in show and why?
Jae: My most coveted piece in the show will undoubtedly “In The Pink”. The medium of the canvass includes sequins and acrylic which is not commonly used together. For me this piece represents so many of the women that have been in my life, these are strong and vital women that carry a strong belief of self-worth and empowerment. I enjoy the color combination and the posture on that painting.
AF: You also had the opening during fashion week. Great timing. How did that go?
Jae: Art imitates life and fashion Imitates Art. I pull from what I’m familiar with in order to reach for the unknown. The message was to align the opening of the exhibition with Fashion Week in order to thrust the perspective of fashion and art having one of the most common threads of interest socially. So to answer your question, the show was well received and I feel will gain more credibility as this idea of art and fashion as a parallel is accepted.
AF: How did you discover Jennifer’s work?
Jae: Jennifer’s work was first introduced to me through a colleague of mine at Wallplay. I was immediately drawn to the work by her use of color the sort of whimsical appeal you feel when you see it. I am very fond of her imagination and use of fashion and beauty to tell a story. There is this sort of dreamy and nostalgic feel that makes the canvass come alive even in the current body of work “The Absence of Presence” which has no actual face to the any of the subjects. I would say I’m most fascinated in her use of fabric, sequins, and tapestry.
AF: What other projects are you working on now?
Jae: In October, Wallplay is producing an exhibit entitled “Intersections” by Jamie Roadkill presented by Gallery 151. Intersections presents literal images of bones and bondage. Jamie confronts the discomfort of the viewer and challenges our preconceptions of sex and death. This show is one not to miss, it is an exceptional presentation.
AF: That sounds like an interesting show. What is your process when curating a show?
Jae: For me there has never been one set method to the madness in the curation process. I may have a theme or an idea in mind, or I may have to do research and visit exhibitions. Once I have the structure for the curatorial project, I then begin to envision the artist, which is when the fieldwork begins. I love going to a studio with an idea of what I want or would like to see exhibited, and then choose the work accordingly with the artist. Another approach I take to the curatorial model is to define the content and context of the exhibition based on the sensibilities of specific artists, or certain topical issues. Instead of choosing specific works, I asks the artist to create work or choose her/his own work specifically for the exhibition. Artists are often great judges as to how their work fits into the content of a show.
AF: Do you have any advice you would like to share with artists?
Jae: Whether or not it’s synonymous with your personal definition of success and happiness, as the most recognized incentive and reward, income is naturally the most common way that people meet their needs. You have to learn the business, build a team around you that supports you and is honest with you about your work. Most artist covet their work and its processes, although one of the most exhilarating methods you can apply is to be transparent.
Interview by Jamie Martinez
Photographs provided by the gallery