The Curated Fridge Interview

- The Curate Fridge! The title alone requires some explanation so go ahead and tell us what this project is about and how the idea was conceived.

After returning from Photolucida, I gathered all the promotional pieces from fellow photographers and arranged them on my fridge, posting some snapshots on social media. The response was enthusiastic. Some requested there be an opening reception to celebrate the works and the discovered space, some sent magnets! A couple of months down the road, The Curated Fridge was born and the first “Call for Entrée” opened to all.

The original idea behind The Curated Fridge is to celebrate fine art photography and connect photographers around the world. Photographers mail their prints and, in addition, submit digital files. The guest curators (Refridgecurators) make the decisions in my kitchen while installing the fridge.

Now, over a year in action, the shows are running on a bimonthly basis. Furthermore, the accepted images are posted on social media and the dedicated website, promoting the work of the photographers and creating connections and long-lasting friendships between the artists. Finally, opening receptions are held in my house, where photographers discuss their projects and curators talk about their vision.

- We met at Photoville in NYC and I must say that entering the park and seeing a refrigerator with images as part of a photo festival is a unique experience. What was the public’s reaction and how was it part of Photoville?

I submitted a proposal to Photoville to be part of their outdoor installations/exhibitions with a group show, curated by Aline Smithson. The theme of the call for entry was “Road Trip” and, as always, the submission was free. I was very excited that Photoville instantly embraced The Curated Fridge and even more thrilled when I saw that the fridge was installed under the Brooklyn Bridge! As for the public, they loved the idea and were curious about the project.

- Curators from prominent art institutions have been involved in the selection of images. Tell us how that came about, what was your reaction and are you always working with a curator for the selection of images?

Engaging with the local art scene in Boston was very helpful in order to make The Curated Fridge a successful project. I'm deeply touched by all the curators, artists and educators I reached out to, who embraced the project from the beginning and helped it grow during the last year: Caleb Cole (2015 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow), Frances Jakubek (Associate Director, Griffin Museum of Photography), Bruce Myren (PRC Boston), Karen Haas (Lane Curator of Photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), Greer Muldowney (Regional Coordinator of Flash Forward Festival, Boston), Matthew Gamber (Recipient of New Photography Grant, Humble Arts Foundation) and Paula Tognarelli (Executive Director, Griffin Museum of Photography).

- When and where was inaugural show? Tell us about this unique experience and reaction.

The first show was held in my kitchen in August 2015 and was curated by Caleb Cole. There were not a lot of submissions since almost no-one knew about the project except our friends on social media. After the first show, the submission were doubled and so on. For the Photoville show, there were more than 800 submitted prints!

What I find very interesting was that the curators come in my apartment and make their selections based on the prints that photographers sent. They lay the prints on the counter, the move them around, rearrange them and install them on the fridge. I believe that this is a unique experience for the curators, who usually judge competitions by looking at jpgs.

- Are you returning the prints or are you working on a more comprehensive archive of the work for future plans? Might I dare to ask, are you planning to expand to more than one fridge?

The prints are not returned. I'm keeping an archive with all the submitted prints and there are plans for curating shows at galleries around the US. Last December, I was invited by Photographic Resource Center in Boston to curate a show based on the submissions I have received so far from the previous Fridge Shows. As of now, there are no plans of expansion to more than one fridge.

- What are some of the challenges you have encountered so far, and what have you learned from the experience? Considering the limitations of print size, does the selection of images become more challenging?

Since I'm running the whole project by myself, I’ve encountered many challenges: maintaining the website and constantly posting on social media, promoting the project (in order for more emerging photographers to have a chance in showing their work to a wider audience) and keeping an archive for the submitted prints.

I have realized that TCF is an alternative way of showcasing the work of emerging photographers. It’s fun and quirky but it’s also very effective.

As for the print size, they have to be small in order to fit on the fridge but I don't think that the selection becomes challenging. People can submit whatever they want: Instagram photos, scanned images, even their promos (as long as the type is not too big).

- Is there a connecting link and influence between your personal work and journey from Greece, and if so what would that be? I am asking this because although the entry calls are international, you are also getting an intimate experience of America.

I'm not sure how to answer this question. There is no connecting link between my personal work and the fridge calls.

- We are bombarded with imagery on a daily basis, and at times our attention span is short. Having the pleasure of viewing the fridge in person in New York City, I felt the experience of viewing a book; it entices you to slow down and look. So I see this as symbolic and a counteraction against the detached format of the Internet. Any thoughts on this?

Our attention span online is no more than 10 seconds and I believe it’s because we are constantly exposed to images. Stepping out of the virtual world slows us down and forces us to look deeper. Visiting a gallery or a museum, actually seeing the original print, the way the medium was intended to be seen is a unique experience.

- What is your opinion on the current state of American Photography and do you have any suggestions for students or emerging photographers that are trying to promote their work?

American Photography is blooming. There are so many talented artists out there and many more to be discovered. Students have to visually educate themselves, study the masters, watch cinephile movies, visit galleries and museums, make prints of their photographs and hang them on the wall, live and breathe with them, surround themselves with art.

As for emerging photographers, submit to exhibitions; get your name out there! That’s what I’ve been doing. There is no other way. No one can see what’s on your hard drive unless it’s printed or submitted to a call for entry. Finally, create a crit group with other artists that you trust and meet frequently to discuss about your projects and show new work.

Some info about the new call for entry

ΑφίσαThe new Call for Entrée is here and the Refrigecurator of the Dec16/Jan17 show is Elin Spring, founder, editor and head writer of the photography blog "What Will You Remember?", featuring exhibit reviews, curator and artist interviews, book reviews and commentary. She is a contributing writer to print and online magazines, as well as museum exhibitions and catalogs.

Deadline: Wednesday, November 30th (postmarked mail) Guidelines and more info here: www.thecuratedfridge.com/Call-for- Entree

website: http://www.thecuratedfridge.com - Instagram: @thecuratedfridge

Yorgos Efthymiadis