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Five Questions with Christine Santa Ana, the Curator of Of The Afternoon Magazine

Christine is an independent curator, often working between many curatorial projects, we asked about her unique insight into working with photography magazine Of the Afternoon.

In 2011, Christine co-founded the Underground Gallery which she managed for two years, curating over 25 exhibitions and working with many talented photographers and artists. Christine currently produces pop up exhibitions with photography magazine Of The Afternoon. 

Of the Afternoon was founded in 2012 and began as a blog platform for emerging photographers and photographic artists to display their work. Since 2012, Of the Afternoon has expanded to host a series of exhibitions around the UK, alongside an accompanying publication.

 

How did you first get into curating exhibitions for Of the Afternoon magazine?

I am often asked this question and I am not completely sure how this came about! I hosted the first Of The Afternoon show at Underground Gallery and then I think the pop ups were just something that happened naturally.

 

Being a curator, you must meet lots of interesting photographers and become involved in lots of exciting projects! What has been the highlight of your career as a curator so far?

Yes, one of the best things about working within exhibitions is meeting lots of new people at the openings; so many new opportunities, collaborations, skill swaps and so on arise from chatting to people.

I curated an exhibition titled ‘Underground’ a few years ago. I have lists of people whose images I come across and like and so making this show was a chance to bring together three photographers that I had wanted to work with for a very long time. I exhibited Gesche Würfel’s ‘Basement Sanctuaries’, a tranquil, well-observed documentation on how the superintendents of apartment buildings decorate the basements, David Solomons’ ‘Underground’, a series of images taken on the tube between 1994 and 1995 and Dylan Thomas’ ‘Crash Series’, a study of inanimate objects in unrecognisable and unfamiliar spaces.

 

As a photographer and a curator, do you find that your commitments to curating conflicts with your photographic practice?

It is difficult to find time to make your own personal work, it is always the first thing that gets pushed aside unfortunately. I did enjoy doing my Masters as it forced me to make my own work, it was great to be bound by those university deadlines again. It’s funny how you loathe deadlines on your BA but welcome them on your MA. I do try to continue to make my own work as for me, it is a need, and it also means I will always be able to relate to the photographers I exhibit.

Furthermore, I have a section on my blog where people can ‘say hello’, usually with the aim of me helping them to do an edit or generally to tell me about a body of work they are currently making. I really love hearing from people and couple this with the amount of submissions we receive for the Of The Afternoon shows, there is a constant flurry of great work being shown to me. I love seeing other peoples’ projects but it does make you less confident about your own work. You’ll see things that will almost knock you over with how brilliant they are.

 

You must receive lots of submissions for Of the Afternoon magazine; tell us how you would the make final selection?

The magazine is based in Manchester so I make a trip up there (it’s also a great excuse to go and see galleries up north, as I think there is too much of a focus on what goes on in London). Phil, the editor and I spend a day or two going through the work to make our first selection, which we then print out. I look to see how well the images work with each other and then continue to whittle it down to a manageable number of usually just over thirty images.

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Still curating, but within an institution. I’ve also been fortunate to work on a photography summer school at Central Saint Martins since 2009. I really enjoy working with young people and mentoring and I love the whole learning atmosphere, so it has always been on my agenda to do a PGCE at some point too.

 

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Find out more about Of the Afternoon magazine here

Follow Christine Santa Ana and her latest curatorial projects here

Interviewer: Kayung Lai