An Interview with Matt Ritson of Holy Ghost Zine
The Holy Ghost collective have teamed up with Protein to create a show ‘Six Six Six’ on 1st March, examining the role of the curator as well as showcasing the works of 6 British based photographers. We spoke to them to find out more about the idea behind the show.
How would you describe the work that the Holy Ghost collective does to somebody that isn’t familiar with it? Is there a photo in particular that sums it up?
Holy Ghost is a group of artists from London, founded by myself, Matt Ritson, and Alexander Mcluckie. Together we run an online gallery and blog; we also produce a quarterly publication. Whenever we get the chance we’ll also put on an exhibition, which will usually involve the whole Holy Ghost group; Jack Greeley-Ward, Joe Farley, Andrew Ford and most recently Ian Bird. For shows we try our best to do something interesting with gallery spaces, like our last show, “The Collection”, for which the space was open to submissions and anyone could come and install their artwork. I think the image below describes what we do best.
We gave a roll of film each to six photographers, Jake Dow-Smith, Paul Phung, Lewis Chaplin, James Pearson-Howes, Max Knight and Jess Gough. They then went away and shot the rolls and returned them to us. We then processed the films and the exhibition will be prints of every frame from every roll.
It’s an idea that I’ve been playing with in my own practice quite a bit. I like the idea of giving a body of work a fixed limitation but then also allowing anything to happen in the space of 36 frames. It’s a structured process but extremely open to experimentation. The results can’t be edited either so really, in essence, the viewer is seeing the honest recordings of the photographer.
The 35mm film that is being handed out to your photographers, what kind of film is it? Do they all get the same type?
Each photographer was given a roll of Fuji c200. We thought it was important to keep up the continuity just to allow the viewer to really hone in on the comparability of the work.
Why did you choose the only limitation for the photographers to be whether they chose landscape or portrait?
If they shoot the film entirely in portrait or landscape then the prints can be posted in a really concise block of 6 prints by 6 prints. We thought it would be the best way, aesthetically to display the result.
You seem to be putting as much thought into the concept of the project as you are giving to the final exhibition itself, why is this? Is it more important than the exhibition?
The concept is important to us because we’re always looking to expand on the conventions of showing work. I think there’s always something intriguing about bringing something new to the gallery space and also something that challenges us as curators, although, it never outweighs the actual event. They should be harmonious; you can’t have one without the other.
You have chosen a wide variety of photographers, what’s the link between them?
They are all photographers that we’ve worked with before and they also had to be within travelling distance to get the film back to us. It’s a risk having all of the work in the show floating about on small rolls of film so we couldn’t push that risk even further and rely on mailing them. Luckily though we got a great group of artists that we admire and we knew that they would fulfil the concept.
What were your influences for this show?
One of the main influences was a piece by Jake Dow-Smith that went into our first exhibition at the pop-up gallery we opened two years ago. It was found pictures of aeroplanes that he displayed in a block in one corner of the gallery. I really liked the aesthetic of it, the continuity and structure. When thinking about ideas for my own work it was something that I always had in my mind and it just translated so well to using rolls of film. The next step was then to branch out and see what other people could do within the same limitations.
If Holy Ghost could exhibit any photographer’s work, dead or alive, who would it be?
We would love to exhibit a roll by John Baldessari. He’s not necessarily a photographer but I think he would suit this kind of project. Also, Robert Frank. Although, when we met with James Pearson-Howes recently to give him his roll of film he told us that Robert Frank once said, “there are two things one doesn’t do in public; eat lobster and show your contact sheets”, so he probably wouldn’t be too keen.
What does Holy Ghost have planned for the rest of 2012? Any more releases coming up?
At the moment we’ve started putting together volume 5 of the zine. It’s going to have some great work in it and we’re dedicating this one solely to photography. It should be available by April.
Six Six Six opens on 1st March 2012 from 7-9pm
18 Hewett Street