Kate Benedict & Tamara Hart: Curating For Unconventional Spaces

Posted by Madeleine Till, August 19, 2017
Kate and Tamara edit

Kate Benedict and Tamara Hart are emerging curators currently based in Toronto. After meeting by chance at their day job, the two have collaborated on several curatorial projects for Bunker 2 (an alternative art gallery housed in a renovated shipping container). Kate and Tamara teamed up to curate our current exhibition take your legs and your shoes, on view at The Drake Hotel until October 17.

Let’s start with discussing your current exhibition at The Drake Hotel - did take your legs and your shoes have a specific starting point?

KATE: I don’t think we ever come with starting points - we had very loose ideas of how we wanted to utilize the space, but no specific artists or concepts in mind. The most we knew was that we wanted a sculptural piece in the vestibule, and a mural on the chalkboard.

TAMARA: It was kind of thrown at us! I think we got three or four weeks to put together the whole show. It was a real challenge, but it’s been a great experience for us.

KATE: A lot of the artists that we found for this exhibit came through word of mouth. We found Kendra Yee that way, we found Erika DeFreitas that way. Given the short timeline it was tough, but we made a few studio visits and went from there.

Erika DeFreitas

video installation by Erika DeFreitas

Were the projects you selected for the exhibition pre-existing works or hand picked to show at The Drake?
KATE: Given the short timeline, we initially thought we wouldn’t be able to get new bodies of work. Oddly enough, through the interactions we had with both the artists and members of the community we ended up getting all new artwork.

TAMARA: Yeah, which was the best part! Erika DeFreitas was just about to leave for a residency in Trinidad when we approached her, she graciously sent us a new video at the last minute. As for Bijan Ramezani, we’d seen similar work from him before but his was produced newly too. Annie Descôteaux was the first artist we started working with, she created a beautiful installation for the vestibule based on past work exhibited in Montreal. And from Kendra Yee, the mural that was drawn on site.

KATE: A lot of the work grew organically with the show as well, Kendra’s especially.

TAMARA: This is kind of a platform to experiment, where we can try shows with new work that may not be as viable in your typical gallery setting.

Kendra Yee

mural and installation by Kendra Yee

On that note - you’re curating for Bunker 2 as well, what are some of the challenges you face curating for a space that’s a bit unconventional?
TAMARA: Funding is one of the biggest challenges. It’s incredibly difficult to come up with a long term model for sustainability when you’re running an alternative space and you’re not a registered non-profit.

KATE: You have to jump through a lot of loop holes. Another is getting artists to understand, who haven’t seen the space. In preliminary discussions about the show, it’s easy for artists to not really have any idea what they’re getting themselves into. We give them the dimensions and the floor plan and it’s easy to get that we’re working with a confined space… but you still don’t really understand it until you get there. You really have to challenge yourself to use the space but at the same time use it minimally.

TAMARA: Last I’d say exposure for artists and the space. We show a lot of emerging artists, that’s a mandate of ours. However, if you’re showing emerging artists within an emerging space, one limitation is that you need to expand how you like to approach these exhibitions and how you reach out to the community at large.

Annie Descôteaux

vestibule installation by Annie Descôteaux

Do the two of you always work collaboratively, or do you work on solo projects as well?
KATE: We’re attached at the hip actually.

TAMARA: We met a year-and-a-half ago, when we started working at Division Gallery together. Since then I think we’ve collaborated on everything. We probably spend more than 7 days a week together, more so than our own partners.

KATE: In the last year and a half we’ve done everything together. We recognize that it’s important for us to grow independently as well as collaboratively. We’re both going to have upcoming solo projects, so this is going to be an exciting new chapter for us.

Bijan Ramezani

work by Bijan Ramezani

Do either of you have any upcoming plans for personal or collaborative curatorial projects?
TAMARA: I’ll be doing my Masters degree in London, at Goldsmiths in the fall. The only real project I have planned is to connect with London based digital artists and remotely curate an exhibit at Bunker 2.

KATE: Both of us are working on publications for Edition (international art book fair), so we’re going to be working with Producer Gareth Brown-Jowett and two artists to create two different publications. The goal is to develop an accessible artist publication, that’s fun and playful in its form. I’ll also be curating at Bunker 2 with John Elammar and working on the Scotiabank Contact Festival.

TAMARA: We’re also doing a zine workshop at the end of the month (August 29th) with Kendra Yee at The Drake. We always like to do alternative publications and programming to coincide with our exhibitions.

Erika DeFreitas

work by Erika DeFreitas

Posted in: Art

Tags: drake art  kate benedict  tamara hart  the drake hotel