Article - Interview

Harry Hardie discusses the work of Seba Kurtis, and offers advice to photographers on how to present their work.

Harry Hardie

EGFirstly, thanks for bringing us this special guest edition by Seba Kurtis. His images are really beautiful and powerful and his show at HOST was one of our favourites of this year. How did you come across Seba’s work? And why did it seem special to you?

HHWell actually the first I saw of Seba’s work was when Lauren Heinz, editor of 8 Magazine, showed me some of the Mexican Border work that they then ran in the magazine. I was really taken by the work so asked Seba if I could see more, we met, got on very well, and I was completely smitten by the work and still am very much.

What’s so special and unique about Seba’s work is how multi-layered it is; there are so many ways to enjoy and appreciate his photographs. Also there is so much of Seba in his work, which in turn leads one into the idea that his process is so important to the work; it’s often like a performance and I love this about the work…. I could go on and on (which is a good sign!)

Seba Kurtis Edition

EGYou must see a huge amount of portfolios, what are you looking for when you are shown new work?

HHWell, I guess the most important thing is that I see something new; by that I mean something I have not seen before, whether that’s a stylistic thing or whether that’s simply the subject. It’s always such a pleasure, especially with documentary photography, to learn something you didn’t know before from the work.

EGWhen showing work do you think it’s best for a photographer to be focused on a single body of work, or do you like to see multiple projects? And how influenced are you by whether a photographer can discuss their work and ideas?

HHI think it’s important for a photographer to be able to talk about their work of course, but maybe discuss is a better word. It’s a tricky one, as sometimes you see someone and they bang on and on about the theory which is obviously fine and important, but only to a point….

In terms of various projects it really depends, I very much like the way Seba works, in that he has many projects but really they are all about one big issue. Sometimes it takes a while to see how they fit together but they always do, we have had many conversations about future projects of his and it’s so beautiful when suddenly it all becomes apparent how his work as a whole works, it’s like magic….

EGWhat advice would you give to someone preparing for a portfolio review? How can you get the most out of your 20 minutes?

HHWell firstly I think its very important to know who you are going to see; it’s no use going to see someone from The Times wanting commissions and showing them a load of landscapes, The Times don’t really print landscapes so that’s rather futile. Also have a good concise edit of work, and know what you want out of the review.

EGWhat work have you seen recently that has really caught you?

HHWell I am a big fan of Kate Peters’ work; she has a series called Stranger than Fiction that I like a lot, each photograph contains a small implied narrative, the work is very cinematic. I am currently working on a show that opens on 6th November at the Architectural Association, which is called Projected Landscapes; Kate is in that show along with three other photographers. It should be a good show so please come and see it! Also at the moment I’m very keen on a series called Badlands by Corinne Silva, it’s a great body of work it has many layers to it- definitely worth a look, she will be in the Projected Landscapes exhibition too.

EGTell us about the way you curate shows, how do you decide how to edit and lay out the work? Does different work suggest different styles of presentation? Is this immediate or does it sometimes take a while for a show to come together?

HHWell again it depends, sometimes it’s very simple and obvious and sometimes it’s a very different story. Often shows seem to come together quite organically; Seba’s show was a real treat as while we were working on it we kept making little links between pictures and themes. When we began to include his family photographs from the series Flood it suddenly became apparent that they were an essential part of the show, in terms of pulling it together and just subtly alluding to the bigger picture and the themes of the work.

About Harry Hardie

Originally with a background in Sculpture, Harry worked in numerous galleries including London’s Lisson Gallery, moving into the photography world he worked as assistant to the director of photography at The Times, before becoming Photo Editor of The Times Luxx Magazine. He happily returned to the world of galleries with a move to HOST Gallery. In 2011 Harry set up his own company, HERE, to publish, exhibit, teach and support photography.

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