Taneesha Ahmed and Annie Carpenter have been working together, on and off, since they met in 2005 at Leeds University, and have been programming the Project Space at Rogue Studios – the largest artist-run studio complex in the Northwest – for a year. They had both already been studio-holders at Rogue, and in 2011 hosted a series of events called Office Parties, which functioned as interactive, short-term exhibitions. They will continue to programme the space until the end of this year, and having gained funding from Grants for the Arts, they are now able to commission new works – like those by Sam and Linny Venables in the current exhibition; Big End Knock.
Taneesha described how it became necessary to clearly articulate their curatorial intent in order to apply for funding, and that the honing of ideas that this entailed has been useful in directing the programme. They also both agreed with our previous interviewees, Textbook Studio, that the creative scene in Manchester is particularly inclusive and supportive, describing how they have been able to become embedded in the art scene here within a relatively short space of time, and due to Manchester’s size – not too big, not too small – it’s easy to get new projects off the ground, even with no budget.
Ahmed and Carpenter’s programme for 2013 is entitled Free Failing, and they explained how each exhibition is seen as an art-work in itself, rather than a show, with an emphasis on research and play. Taneesha and Annie want to be able to support artists in their experimentation, without pressuring them to produce work that is slick and easily presentable – although Big End Knock could be described as slick, this may have more to do with artists’ chosen mediums; bright plastics and neon, than anything else – .
Another recurring concern within Ahmed and Carpenter’s programming at the Rogue Project Space is collaboration with other curators, and exploring interdisciplinary methodologies. In Dead Data: Orreries and Other Objects, an exhibition which took place as part of Future Everything Festival in March 2013, Ahmed and Carpenter joined forces with Rachel Boon from the British Science Museum, to curate an exhibition exploring the concept of the ‘amateur’, in both art and science. The exhibition consisted of new and existing art works, alongside objects loaned from the Manchester Astronomical Society’s archive.
Whilst Ahmed and Carpenter often work collaboratively, they are both artists in their own right with distinct practices, and also sometimes collaborate separately to the Project Space; having recently performed at the Chinese Arts Centre with a work entitled ‘Carry the Can’, exploring Manchester’s industrial heritage and the current situation in China. Once the pair’s tenure at the Rogue Project Space is up, the gallery will be open to application for new curators, and Ahmed and Carpenter will move on, but until then – Big End Knock continues until June 1st, and the Rogue Project Space can be found on the fourth floor of Rogue Studios.
Written by Lauren Velvick / Photographs by Elle Brotherhood