Herejias - Pedro Meyer

Dear friends:

In the next month, more than 60 Museums around the world will be showing concurrently the Heresies exhibition.

The number is actually less important than some of the concepts behind this project. Let me better explain.

ALL of the exhibitions are different from each other. Each Museum made their own selection of prints, according to the size of their spaces, their audience and the sort of interest in photography that the curator of each Museum wanted to express.

Museo de Arte de Zapopan Museo de Arte de Zapopan

Museo de Arte de Zapopan
Zapopan, Jalisco, México
Space alloted to the Heresies Exhibition

The curatorial process began with 21 curators who made a selection of 1,600 images, from a total of about 310,000 images. And in turn the 60 Museum curators made their choices from this selection which had narrowed down the number of images from the totality of images available, bringing it down to a more manageable size.

But aside from this parade of numbers, which after all only defines parameters, nothing more, one very interesting issue does come up.

Who defines my work?

The experience gained during the process of this project has taught me that in fact the traditional notion of one curator or two, who define the work of an artist, was always an unrealistic proposition, but we did not have a way to subject this notion to a real test.

Historically there are not few curators, that have been setting themselves up as the defining individuals in making the careers of artists. One can see that this would happen, in the context of how power in the art world has been exerted. The only problem with such a structure, is that power shifted from artists to curators over a period of years. The curators became in some instances as important or even more so, than the artists they were presenting. To the extent that in some cases, exhibitions were featured with the curators name at the top of the credits.

I think that in most instances the contribution of curators is a very important one, but not to the extent to what happened as they became the movers and shakers of what was allegedly defined as being in or out, in the art world. Because in doing so, they exerted too much control over the creative liberty that all artists should have. I would venture to say that their influence, thwarted in many instances photographers from following their own inner voice. Styles were pushed up, down or sideways, according to markets rather than other more genuine interests of the artists themselves.

The Comrade
The Heresies project, is living proof that there can be many points of view about any given body of work, and that these diverse points of view can be represented by the presence of exhibitions all around the world. Not even I, conceptually agreed with all the choices that the invited curators made. I was always clear, however, that this was the risk I was taking on, if I wanted to explore the options of giving such a wide range of freedom to all the curators and to see what would happen.
  The Comrade 1979 © Pedro Meyer
Curator: Martin Lister
From the Gallery: Images of Europe

In the end, I believe this project will end up proving that a given body of work, in this case mine, can be perceived and presented in many many different ways. Some undeniably might be better than others, but one thing will stand out as a concept: authors, photographers, artists, what ever name you want to use to describe us, need curators no doubt, but a curators' point of view is only one vision of many possible alternatives, and this should be understood as such, more as part of the overall infrastructure that delivers a work of art, rather than the power brokers they have turned into. However, the artists themselves are not beyond reproach on this very matter, as all too often they were quite willing participants in delivering their work as if it was simply raw material for someone elses' work.

I fully appreciate that the Heretical nature of my statements will soon be questioned, precisely by those whose power might be confronted by my observations. We need to enter into a new relationship were curatorial expertise becomes part of the delivery mechanism, not the motor itself.

Fortunately all the curators who offered me their support towards this Heresies project, did not see themselves as described above. On the contrary, the fact that they knew that there were all the other colleagues working simultaneously, already addresses one of the main concerns I stated earlier, that of understanding that there can be many concurrent points of view and that collaboration is the key with which we should all consider our work. To them I am deeply grateful for providing us with their insights, knowledge and vision and the generosity of spirit in sharing all that they did. And to all those curators, who do fall into the category I mentioned earlier, I would extend a cordial invitation to share some of their considerations regarding the issues I have raised.

In the next newsletter you will be getting more information regarding the Heresies project, I will be addressing further aspects of the nature of this Heresies project, specifically the printed book that is freshly coming out of the press.

Best regards,

Pedro Meyer

The Prophecy Digestive Track

The Prophecy 1985/1993 © Pedro Meyer
Curator: Fernando Castro
From the Gallery: The United States

Many Gods 2005 © Pedro Meyer
Curator: Elizabeth Ferrer
From the Gallery: Religious Imagery