At the end of MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department student Carly Gaebe’s first year, she attended the program’s end-of-year thesis exhibition and was struck by how little she’d known about the projects being made by her classmates. To remedy the situation, Gaebe launched SVA Underexposed, a blog in which she plans to interview every student in the department about their work. Gaebe talked to the Briefs via e-mail about the motivations behind the blog and the response she’s received.
Why did you launch SVA Underexposed?
In my department, the first- and second-year students are a bit separated, mostly just as a result of how thesis-centric the second-years have to be. This creates a kind of artificial divide, which can really limit how much access each student has to the other work that is going on in the department. And I thought, ‘What a loss! Wouldn’t it be great if there was a single place where all the current work could be archived and searched through by any student, or any other member of our community?’ So I decided to start a Web site that would feature the work of every student and ask them a few questions about their work, about SVA and about living in New York. The first interview went up in the beginning of September and will continue until I’ve interviewed everyone in my department.
How often do you update it?
At any given time, I usually have between one and five interviews at different stages of the process. I try to update it at least once a week, sometimes more. Each interview takes between 3-5 hours to prep, so sometimes getting a completed interview up can be challenging. I am in my thesis year, so school also has a habit of taking precedence over the interviews. With the end of the academic year already looming, both my thesis and SVA Underexposed have gone into overdrive.
What sort of response have you gotten?
I’ve gotten a great response so far! The artists whose work I feature are grateful for the exposure and having a forum to talk about their work. I think that sometimes when a student gets too insulated with their work, or even their crit class, it can be hard to break free and both the artist and the work can settle into a rut—I definitely feel like that with my work sometimes. Hopefully, some questions from a person who is only familiar with the work through a few images and an artist statement can help free the work up a bit, or at least see it in a different light.
Why is this project important to you?
One of the most important things about an artistic practice, I think both for myself and for many other artists, is sharing work and talking about ideas that are in-progress. For me, SVA Underexposed is a way to get the work out and hopefully start more conversations within our department. I also really love the time I spend coming up with questions. The work here is so diverse, both in terms of the medium (photography, video, sound, performance, sculpture) and of content (documentary, conceptual, abstract) that when I am researching both the artists work and other work similar to theirs, I am both pulling from my own education from undergrad and from SVA and I am learning quite a bit in the process. People are working on such amazing projects! I like taking the time and effort to learn what is consuming each artist here. I want to help build a more stable foundation that we can all lean on after we leave SVA.