Curator Ben Broome in conversation with designer and collaborator Bianca Saunders
Institutionalized art spaces are known to carefully control their production of golden tickets in terms of the spaces they provide and the talent they champion. At best, meaningful change within the industry moves at a snail’s pace, often failing to create impactful inclusion. Independent curator Ben Broome is on a mission to change that, putting diversity at the top of his agenda and handing the reins of creative freedom to the artists themselves.
Since 2016, his Draw a blank series of exhibitions took place in non-traditional art spaces. Rejecting the norms of the art world and creating an ecosystem within its own collective community, DRABL, the exhibitions regularly see musicians, designers, painters and filmmakers exhibit under one roof. Having organized shows in warehouses, storefronts and parking lots from New York to Paris, his recent U-turn The exhibition took place in a more traditional, white-walled gallery in Broome’s hometown of London, just outside Shoreditch.
We reunited Broome with one of his longtime collaborators, fashion designer, artist and QG Infatuation cover star Bianca Saunders for a conversation about the intake Draw a blank again in London, his new approach to the series and his plans for the future.
Bianca Saunders: Do you have Instagram on your phone?
Ben Broome: I only did this a month ago and then I downloaded it so I could post on the exhibition and I’ve kept it on my phone ever since but I’m still going to delete it because it’s not well, it’s not good for my sanity, it’s not good for my productivity. It’s bad for everything.
BS: I know you have encouraged many people to create artwork and I know that sometimes the artwork in your exhibits is not pre-existing, it is created after the announcement of the exhibit. What is the reason for this?
BB: Most of the works in my exhibitions (if not all!) are created after the announcement of the exhibition, but it is indicative of the world in which we live. People do a million things… of course it happens at the last minute.
When I decide to organize a Draw a blank exhibition I ask artists to react to the space and place in which they exhibit and to their fellow exhibitors. Often the most successful works feature a site-specific element. In the recent show, one piece was “Will, Well, Wall” by Gala Prudent. She didn’t have a clear plan when she decided to make an installation out of 300 London bricks… it’s something she’s done before, the continuation of a series using old bricks as sculptural material … the best things are always site-specific, an artist doing something “for” the space.
This is what we did in Paris with your installation. You had the materials to do the installation and an idea of how you wanted it to live, but it wasn’t until you got into that space and were able to install it in a way that held the room and had the presence that it became a work of art. and became something that was representative of your artistic practice… becoming something that lived in a different area of your work in fashion. It was contextualized by the environment in which it was shown.