An Interview with Melinda Gibson – an Artist and Photographer Working with Photographs and Publication

melinda gibson - unseen photography fair

Originally posted on October 25th 2013

Melinda’s first publication, ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’ was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2012 by Photo-eye. This year, Melinda brings us ‘Miss Titus Becomes a Regular Army Mac’, a collaborative publication with Kummer & Herrman. This limited edition, handmade book is produced from the visual source material of photography collector and dealer, Brad Feuerhelm’s archive collection.

‘Miss Titus Becomes a Regular Army Mac’ premiered at Unseen photography fair, Amsterdam, as part of ‘Unnatural Selection’ – an exhibition of nine female artists responses to Feuerhelm’s collection. During the exhibition, Melinda showcased the production of the book in two live book-making performances, adding another facet to the publication.

We caught up with Melinda on Tuesday to ask her about the future of photobooks’ in a digital age, The Unseen Dummy Awards, her inspirations, her new publication and much, more…

Genesisimaging: Hi Melinda! Are you ready to speak about photography, photobooks and the future?

Melinda_jgibson: Yes I am, even though my computer doesn’t like Twitter it seems!

Genesisimaging: Tell us about your new publication, ‘Miss Titus Becomes a Regular Army Mac’…

Melinda_jgibson: It’s a collaborative one working with Kummer & Herrman, using Brad Feurehelm’s archive collection as source material.

Genesisimaging: How did you approach the project – where did you start?

Melinda_jgibson: It started by Brad asking me to be part of his exhibition at Unseen photo fair and spending hours delving through his imagery!

Melinda_jgibson: I wanted to create a new body of work focused around what it is to really ‘read’ photographs.

Genesisimaging: What made you decide to add a performance aspect into your work by making the books live, for this and your previous book?

Melinda_jgibson: Process is a fundamental part of my practice and when working conceptually some ideas need practical visualisation.

Melinda_jgibson: Both projects, with their labour intensive elements work well in performances, it’s elevating process to a new level.

Genesisimaging: Both worked so well to involve and engage the audience.

Genesisimaging: Let’s talk about Unseen photography fair… what did you enjoy most about being a juror on the Unseen dummy awards and why?

Melinda_jgibson: It was a great privilege working with team and jurors, their unique visions provide ample food for thought.

Genesisimaging: Tell us about your very first photographic project and what got you interested in photography.

Melinda_jgibson: It was probably when I was 8 years old, I did a little documentary shoot of my family in the Lake District…

Melinda_jgibson: …and that’s when I realised photography helped me say things I couldn’t say with words.

Genesisimaging: How have your perceptions about photography changed in your time within the industry?

Melinda_jgibson: Photography’s availability to twist and turn at every stage. It’s forever developing and the possibilities are endless!

Genesisimaging: Great answer. How did Charlotte Cotton react to your publication of ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art’?

Melinda_jgibson: I get asked this a lot! The simple answer is yes, she likes it very much. Charlotte wrote a beautiful concluding text…

Melinda_jgibson: …for my first publication which provides a more detailed analysis of her thoughts on the project.

Genesisimaging: Well, we can see why! It’s great for anyone to have someone so obviously inspired by their work.

Melinda_jgibson: Very true, we live in a time where there is so much inspirational material just waiting to be used, amended and altered!

Genesisimaging: How do you think photobooks have, or will be effected by digital technology?

Melinda_jgibson: I am passionate about this one, so longer answer coming! Well I think it’s important to state that for me, the debate…

Melinda_jgibson: …digital vs analogue is outdated and they do coexist rather well. But with every development comes a questioning so…

Melinda_jgibson: …I believe it will make the handmade elements more prominent, but how long this book market can hold for is anyone’s guess!

Genesisimaging: Hopefully a long while yet. If you could own any photobook or body of work, what would you choose?

Melinda_jgibson: The list is too long! But I would absolutely love one of Mira Schendel’s handmade books and any print of Wolfgang Tillmans!

Genesisimaging: Ben asks, how does your work process differ between work for exhibition and work for publication?

Melinda_jgibson: Well Ben, it all starts in the same way, with a reaction, a need to investigate and explore a concept or theme or theory…

Melinda_jgibson: …then a natural development into what resolution aids the conception best, be it book or exhibition, sometime both.

Genesisimaging: How do you hope your work will be perceived by future generations?

Melinda_jgibson: Another impassioned answer! I think it’s important not to focus on ‘legacy’ or how you want to be perceived, I think…

Melinda_jgibson: …that leads to failure. I live and work in the present and for me if audiences see and appreciate my work than that is…

Melinda_jgibson: …is all I could wish for, ultimately I do what I do because it makes me who I am and I wouldn’t be Miss Gibson without it!

Genesisimaging: Another great answer!

Genesisimaging: Last one! What can we expect from you next?

Melinda_jgibson: Now that would be telling. But I am working on a fair few things, one big project with Collector Thomas Sauvin in Beijing…

Melinda_jgibson: …and I am in mid research for a very interesting project working with Scientists, but you’ll have to wait and see…

Genesisimaging: Both sound very interesting, can’t wait to see what’s next! Unfortunately that’s all we’ve got time for.

Genesisimaging: Thank you Melinda – some really interesting answers!

Melinda_jgibson: Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure!

Find out more about Melinda here

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