PhotoGlobal and Beyond: Q&A with SVA Faculty Member Stephen Frailey

November 21, 2014

This month, SVA opens an exhibition of work by photographers who took part in the PhotoGlobal residency program, a launching pad for emerging talent from around the world from 2017 – 2014. It’s one of a number of ambitious projects initiated by BFA Photography and MPS Fashion Photography Co-chair Stephen Frailey. frailey200An artist, publisher and curator as well as an educator, Frailey has long championed an inclusive approach to photography, blurring the lines between art and commerce, digital and print, high and low culture. Following the release of the latest issue of the award-winning magazine Dear Dave,, which he edits, Frailey co-hosted the award ceremony for the W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, hosted a talk by Philip Gefter (Bill Cunningham New York, Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe), and curated a sale of photography on Artspace, one of the leading websites for the sale of contemporary art. SVA Close Up caught up with Frailey via email as he was putting together the PhotoGlobal exhibition.

How did you select the work for this show?
Work was selected from different geographical regions, and to propose a plurality of approaches to the medium.

glitter425We’ve become accustomed to the idea that, thanks to technology and the marketplace, everything is “global” today, yet artists are often responding to a specific locale. Have you found any common approaches or interests based on where artists are from? 
In general, I have found work outside of the U.S. to be more politically informed, and in the Middle East and Gulf to be more concerned with identity through a cultural prism.

Does the proliferation of platforms and tools make it easier or harder for photographers to stand out from the crowd?
Original and provocative new work can rocket around cyberspace quickly and provide great exposure to those in obscure locations. So yes, the proliferation of platforms rewards the strongest artists, as does an increased interest in artist’s books as a way to promote the work.

How are photographers educated differently since the release of the iPhone and social media?
As a department we are grappling with the impact of social media along with the relevance of video to still photographers in the professional marketplace. The most immediate change is the dissemination of the image, and the transformation from a passive print to an illuminated picture in the palm of our hand.

foam425On the subject of the Web and digital technology, what interested you about the opportunity to curate for Artspace?
Selecting a body of work from an existing bank of images [published in Dear Dave, magazine] is always fun, and Artspace is particularly lively in its approach and its desire to share information about art and collecting.

In just three years, the MPS in Fashion Photography has graduated several rising stars, partnered with the CFDA to help launch young designers, and grown the New York Fashion Film Festival from a cult affair to a standing-room only event that tours internationally. Why did you want to start this program? What’s ahead for the event?
Fashion photography, despite its cultural relevance and influence on all manner of staged photography for the last 40 years, has been largely disqualified from graduate photographic education, because it is perceived as being superficial and corrupted by commerce, and as collateral damage in the efforts of photography to be perceived as a fine art. I thought that there was a need and interest in an advanced conversation about the genre, and to encourage its narrative ambition. As far as the festival goes, we are broadening in January to include some afternoon events, and we would like to premiere more experimental fashion film.

bw425“Photo Global: 2007 – 2014” is on view at the SVA Gramercy Gallery November 22 – December 16. MPS Fashion Photography will exhibit at Milk Gallery, New York, in January, in conjunction with a panel discussion moderated by Vogue‘s Ivan Shaw. Follow @SVAFASHIONPHOTO on Twitter for details.

Images from top down: Photo of Stephen Frailey; photo by MPS Fashion Photography student Damien Kim; Matthieu Lavanchy, Untitled, 2014 from “PhotoGlobal 2007-2014”; and photo by James Perkins (MPS 2013 Fashion Photography).

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