36 episodes

Photo Director Gem Fletcher hosts The Messy Truth, a podcast dedicated to the world of contemporary photography featuring exclusive interviews with emerging and leading artists, curators and critics. Listen in to these candid conversations that unpack photography and why it connects us all in such transformational ways. Follow Gem’s Instagram @gemfletcher for images of photographs discussed in each episode.

The Messy Truth - Conversations on Photography Gem Fletcher

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 61 Ratings

Photo Director Gem Fletcher hosts The Messy Truth, a podcast dedicated to the world of contemporary photography featuring exclusive interviews with emerging and leading artists, curators and critics. Listen in to these candid conversations that unpack photography and why it connects us all in such transformational ways. Follow Gem’s Instagram @gemfletcher for images of photographs discussed in each episode.

    Charlie Engman - On Context

    Charlie Engman - On Context

    Gem Fletcher chats to Charlie Engman. Charlie originally trained as a movement artist as well as studying Japanese and Korean Studies before arriving at photography as a form of visual notation. Now working between commercial and fine art, he is focused on pushing the scope and visual possibility of the world around him. His first monograph, MOM, a collection of images of his mother made over the course of a decade, was recently published and explores ideas of categories, roles, power dynamics, performativity, the expectations and codes of society as well as the relationship they share as collaborators and mother and son. 


    In this episode we talk about the dynamics in photography, the role of context and positionality, performativity and so much more. 
     
    Charlie’s commissioned work has appeared in publications such as AnOther Magazine, Dazed, Garage, POP, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Unemployed, and American Vogue and has been used by clients such as Prada, Marni, Adidas, Hermès, Kenzo, Nike, Opening Ceremony, Pucci, Sonia Rykiel, Stella McCartney, and Vivienne Westwood. Charlie has expanded his talents to both styling and design, most recently collaborating with Collina Strada Resort on the design for the 2020 collection. His first monograph, MOM, a collection of images of his mother made over the course of more than a decade, will be published by Edition Patrick Frey in Spring 2020. This body of work was also exhibited as a solo show at Scrap Metal, Toronto. Charlie is based in Brooklyn, New York.
     
    Follow Charlie on Instagram @charlieengman on Instagram and visit www.charlieengman.com to see his work. Follow Gem @gemfletcher on Instagram. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. Thank you for listening to The Messy Truth, we will be back very soon. For all requests, please email hello@gemfletcher.com
     
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    • 45 min
    Lesley A. Martin - On Publishing

    Lesley A. Martin - On Publishing

    In this episode, Gem Fletcher chats to Lesley A. Martin, creative director of Aperture. She has edited over one hundred books including collaborations with Zanele Muholi, La Toya Ruby Frazier, Richard Mosse, Hank Willis Thomas, Rinko Kawauchi, Antwaun Sargent, and Sara Cwynar to name just a few. She is also the publisher of The PhotoBook Review, a newsprint journal dedicated to the evolving conversation surrounding the photobook. Her writing on photography has been published in Aperture, Ojo de Pez, FOAM, and IMA magazine, among other publications, and in 2012, she co-founded the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. She is currently a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art.


    In this conversation, we discuss Lesley’s personal relationship to the platform of the book and the wider community. We reflect on the current state of photobook publishing and what it can offer a body of work. We talk about audience, the impact of self-publishing, how to decipher the most compelling pathway through a body of work and how to shepherd a project through a constantly shifting context. We talk about methodology, commitment as well as the rich history of the photobook. 
     
    Follow Lesley on Instagram @la.martin_ Follow Gem @gemfletcher on Instagram. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. Thank you for listening to The Messy Truth, we will be back very soon. For all requests, please email hello@gemfletcher.com
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    • 44 min
    Ekow Eshun - On Curation

    Ekow Eshun - On Curation

    In this episode, Gem Fletcher chats to writer and curator Ekow Eshun. His writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, Granta, Wired and Aperture. He is Chair of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing London’s most significant public art programme, and the former director of the ICA. 


    In this conversation, we discuss how his upbringing in London informed his creative work. We discuss what he is looking for in emerging artists and his devotion to Black culture. We unpack his latest book Africa State of Mind that gathers together the work of an emergent generation of photographers from across Africa, including both the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. It is both a summation of new photographic practice from the last decade and an exploration of how contemporary photographers from the continent are exploring ideas of ‘Africanness’ to reveal Africa to be a psychological space as much as a physical territory – a state of mind as much as a geographical place. Dispensing with the western colonial-era view of Africa in purely geographic or topographic terms. The book is presented in four thematic parts: Hybrid Cities; Inner Landscapes; Zones of Freedom; and Myth and Memory. We move on to talk about his role as a guest curator in the Barbican’s Masculinities: Liberation through Photography exhibition. We talk about the camera as an ally or enabler in addition to a tool of violence and oppression. We talk about motivation, unlearning and the constant commitment to the work. 

    Africa State of Mind By Ekow Eshun is published by Thames & Hudson and is available now.

    Follow Ekow on Instagram @ekoweshun. Follow Gem @gemfletcher on Instagram. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. Thank you for listening to The Messy Truth, we will be back very soon. For all requests, please email hello@gemfletcher.com
     
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    • 38 min
    Laia Abril - On Methodology

    Laia Abril - On Methodology

    Gem chats to Laia Abril. Laia is a research-based artist working with photography, text, video and sound. She began her career at the iconic Colors Magazine, which left an indelible mark on how she thinks about process, authorship and collaboration. Now, her art practice is centred on creating a dialogue about hidden realities related to sexuality and gender inequality.
     
    In this episode, we talk about her long term project, A History of Misogyny. Chapter 1 - On Abortion is a gut-wrenching exploration of the repercussions of not having access to abortion and her latest chapter On Rape, aims to call out institutional rape culture. She looks at why structures of justice, law and policy are not only failing survivors but actually encouraging perpetrators by preserving power dynamics which normalise sexual violence.
     
    In this episode, we talk about her methodology and how it evolves over time, how she thinks about audience and how she navigates the emotional weight of the subject matter. For me, Laia is one of the most important artists working today, her work is about starting conversations around urgent issues to play her role in creating a more empathetic and safe world.
     
    Laia Abril (1986) is currently based in Barcelona and represented by the Parisian gallery Les Filles du Calvaire. After graduating from college with a degree in Journalism she moved to New York to focus on photography where she decided to start telling intimate stories that raise uneasy and hidden realities related with sexuality, eating disorders and gender equality. In 2009, she enrolled in the artist residency at FABRICA, the Benetton Research Centre in Treviso, where she worked as a researcher, photo editor and staff photographer at Colors Magazine for 5 years.
     
    Abril’s projects are produced across platforms such as installations, books, web docs, and films. Her work has been shown widely and published internationally and is held in private collections and museums, such as Musée de l’Elysée and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, FRAC in France and MNAC or FotoColectania in Barcelona.
     
    Follow Laia on Instagram @laia_abril on Instagram and visit www.laiaabril.com to see her work. Follow Gem @gemfletcher on Instagram. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. Thank you for listening to The Messy Truth, we will be back very soon. For all requests, please email hello@gemfletcher.com
     
    The content of this podcast could be triggering for some listeners. We discuss topics including eating disorders, sexual violence, abortion, child abuse and trauma. Do take care and if this episode could be harmful to you. Thanks for listening. 
     
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Quil Lemons - On Creativity

    Quil Lemons - On Creativity

    Gem chats to Quil Lemons, a New York-based artist who has really crafted a distinct visual language which interrogates ideas around masculinity, queerness, race and beauty. His first body of work ‘GlitterBoy’, a tender portrait series of Black men and boys adorned in glitter, examined the shifting notions of gender and beauty as they relate to masculinity in the black community. The project laid the foundation for his bold and daring work that straddles art and fashion.


    “I got into photography to preserve my existence, to document my family and what it means to be a black American. I think we are going through a really special moment in America when it comes to image-making when you get to see so many black photographers and creators get to rectify the lack of documentation and cement our existence in American history. It's wild to see history be written in real-time. I think about The New Black Vanguard and how my grandmother is pictured in the same book as Beyonce, celebrating a new form of black beauty.”
     
    In this conversation we talk about everything from family, community, personal style, art making, speaking out, shooting in a pandemic and how he blurs the lines between art and fashion. 
     
    Follow Quil on Instagram @quillemons on Instagram and visit https://quillemons.com to see her work. Follow Gem @gemfletcher on Instagram. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. Thank you for listening to The Messy Truth, we will be back very soon. For all requests, please email hello@gemfletcher.com
     
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    • 53 min
    Farah Al Qasimi - On Discovery

    Farah Al Qasimi - On Discovery

    Gem chats to Farah Al Qasimi. While her primary line of inquiry examines postcolonial structures of power, gender and taste in the Gulf Arab states, what galvanises the work is her unique ability to embed meaning into visual aesthetics. Farah describes her aesthetic approach as 'so muchness'. Her frames overflow with a heady mix of print, objects and domestic interiors amplified by the tension between harsh lighting and an acidic colour palette. Together they transport us into her psyche, an intimate imagining of her world.


    In this conversation, we talk about her journey, her process and what photography means to her. We talk about her recent exhibition Funhouse at Helena Anrather in New York, it’s genesis and how it speaks to key themes within her practice. We talk about performativity, paying attention to your own sensitivity’s and how they can be guiding principles in making work. We discuss how she uses the world as raw material, rather than a direct subject. In doing this she builds worlds in which geography does not matter in order to access a psychic space that defies language.


    Farah Al Qasimi (b.1991, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; lives and works in Brooklyn and Dubai) works in photography, video, and performance. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; the San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco; the CCS Bard Galleries at the Hessel Museum of Art, New York; Helena Anrather, New York; The Third Line, Dubai; The List Visual Arts Center at MIT, Cambridge; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto; and the Houston Center for Photography, Houston.


    Follow Farah on Instagram @frequentlyaskedquestion on Instagram and visit https://farahalqasimi.com/ to see her work. Follow Gem @gemfletcher on Instagram. If you've enjoyed this episode PLEASE leave us your feedback and maybe 5 stars if we're worthy in the Apple Podcast store. Thank you for listening to The Messy Truth, we will be back very soon. For all requests, please email hello@gemfletcher.com
     
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    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
61 Ratings

61 Ratings

Mikeyb1113456 ,

Insightful and inspiring

I’ve listened to every episode - cannot get enough! Gem interviews an incredible range of artists/writers/curators who all do an excellent job of articulating their practice.

ourcharr ,

👏

Can’t believe I’ve only just discovered Gem’s podcast, essential listening for anyone in the photography / creative industry!✨

Scays22 ,

One of the very best

Without doubt the best photography based podcast I’ve listened to. Excellent content and great audio.

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