Looking glass: conduct to conduct with Photo London founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad

May 19, 2017 - photo frame

The healthy father and mother organisation behind Candlestar art and preparation consultancy, Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad, are utterly bustling in a spring. It’s when Photo London, one of their many desirous projects, launches in a drift of Somerset House and in participating spaces opposite a city. But this year, it usually so happens that a duo’s other flagship project, a general photography and sustainability endowment Prix Pictet, fell in a same month. On 4 May, this prestigious esteem was awarded to Richard Mosse, whose pioneering ‘Heat Maps’ array can be seen during a VA until a finish of a month.

In a run-up to Photo London, Benson and Farshad took time out of their honestly terrifying report to speak to us…

Wallpaper*: Logistically, how do you pull something like Photo London together?
Fariba Farshad: It helps that we have a long, prolonged story in a photography world.
Michael Benson: The formulation starts roughly as a final photographs leave a site in May. We take a brief mangle – five days maybe – and even afterwards we’re meditative about what we competence do for subsequent year. It takes a year to devise everything. People provoke us when they see us promulgation out a ‘save a date’ in Sep for a following May.

W*: Sounds exhausting!
MB: In a proceed a kind of exhilarating. Hopefully we’ve had a good satisfactory and a exhibitors have left divided happy. You start to think: ‘what do we do now?’ At a finish of any fair, our emails usually tumble off a cliff. Suddenly, a caravans have changed on and you’re left with an dull inbox!

Helliniko Olympic Arena, by Richard Mosse, 2016, from a array ‘Heat Maps’, 2016-17. © Richard Mosse, Prix Pictet 2017

W*: During a bustling formulation stage, how do we conduct a needs of a public, a exhibitors, a dealers and a collectors?
MB: It’s utterly the balancing act. We’re perplexing to make London an general heart of photography, so a dealers and a collectors are a clever priority for us. We hold a vast eventuality during a ICA in New York, that was designed to inspire New Yorkers come to London, and we visited Art Dubai in March. These vast scale connections with collectors are important. As for a dealers, it’s some-more about carrying one-on-one conversations with them. Also, during a march of a year, we have talks for a public. Our pursuit is to rivet and teach a open over a 12-month duration rather than usually a five-day fair.

W*: How does London conflict to a satisfactory any year?
FF: When we started Photo London in 2015, internal dealers told us there were no collectors in town. They pronounced Paris was a place to go. So we took zero for granted. We started an preparation programme that brought a whole new organisation of people to photography. This ties into a proceed we have grown a endless preparation and talks programme. We had 33 talks final year during a fair, and some-more than 3,000 people attended. This year, we started thinking, ‘Where are a gaps? Where are a areas we haven’t overwhelmed in a final dual years?’ So we consider this year we are going to see a different, extended approach.

W*: Do we consider carrying an general photography satisfactory in London is utterly important, during these times of domestic upheaval?
MB: For starters, London is a general collateral of culture, so if we didn’t have an general photography fair, it would be lacking something.
FF: In certain countries during certain times, art has been a usually boundary-crossing thing that’s kept us open. It’s changed and critical to keep these channels open. Which is one of a reasons we chose this year’s Prix Pictet theme: ‘Space’.

Protestor using from rip gas during riots in a Palestinian encampment of Nilin in a West Bank, by Pavel Wolberg, 2010, from a array ‘Barricades’, 2009–14. © Pavel Wolberg, Prix Pictet 2017

W*: It does seem like a prevalent theme. How did we come adult with it?
MB: It was a organisation effort, including out partners. Each year, we make a list of suggestions and ask ourselves, ‘Does that work? Does that have a breath?’ The thesis can’t be narrow, or it precludes intensity submissions, though it shouldn’t be too extended to ring anything. Saying that, ‘Space’ is a flattering extended thesis – it allows for all kinds of opposite interpretations.

W*: The entries were impossibly diverse. Did we have any personal favourites?
FF: Honestly, they were all great. We had over 600 submissions this year, and had to make this in half before promulgation to a judges to make a final shortlist of 12.

W*: That in itself is a outrageous amont of work. How was it balancing both Prix Pictet and Photo London descending in a same month?
MB: It’s usually been good fun. Excitement drives us. Plus we have a unusual organisation – they are pivotal to a success.


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