Q&A: Gaëlle Morel, Image Arts Curator

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Though Ryerson Image Centre isn’t set to open until September 2012, Ryerson has already appointed Gaëlle Morel as its first curator. Morel, who has a PhD in History of Contemporary Art, from the University of Paris, will help create a long-term exhibition plan for the centre. Sofia Mikhaylova checked in with the academic to discuss her new role

EYE: What brings you to our humble school?

GM: I really like the idea of working in a university because I like working with students and faculty. I like doing research, so I do like all the aspects of working here.

Some students have come and seen me, and we’ll be having student shows at the building. I’m really interested in seeing students’ work. [The Ryerson Image Centre] won’t only be a gallery with collections. It will also be a research centre, so it will be a fantastic opportunity for me to work.

EYE: So what exactly does a curator do?

GM: A curator is someone who creates exhibitions, so he or she does research and tries to pull it together. In my case, that would be different arts — photography, new media, films. A curator tries to give sense to a question that someone would have. A curator coordinates and creates exhibitions to try and make the audience understand how, why, when, to explain to them a particular question. A curator is the link between the artist and the public.

EYE: When the Ryerson Image Centre finally opens, it’s going to have 292,000 photojournalistic prints from the Black Star collection. What can you tell us about that?

GM: In 2005, an anonymous donor gave the Black Star collection to Ryerson. It is almost 300,000 images from 1,000 photojournalists. It’s a wonderful collection. It’s of interest to anyone. If, for example, you’re looking for a special or specific thing, you can go from sociology to journalism. It is a very large collection of many themes and topics.

EYE: You’re very interested in the history of photography and photojournalism. Will you try to reflect your passions in your work as curator?

GM: Yes, I do like working with new media and with film. It would be an interdisciplinary centre, so we will definitely have mixed media.

EYE: You say you like the idea of working in a university; do you have a fond memory from your own days in university?

GM: Oh, it was in Paris, so just being in Paris was fantastic enough. Being a student in Paris, being 20 years old in Paris … It was the best time of my life.

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