Established in 1995, Rogue Studios is the largest independent artists’ studios in Manchester across three floors of a former mill which also houses a project space on the fourth floor. For the next 18 months Ahmed & Carpenter will be curating the programme of exhibitions, events and residencies in the project space. Alice Bradshaw talks to Taneesha Ahmed about their plans.
AB: Who are Ahmed & Carpenter and how did your collaboration come about?
TA: Ahmed and Carpenter is Taneesha Ahmed and Annie Carpenter. We are artists, currently based in Manchester who work collaboratively on both artistic and curatorial projects together. We met at art school, where we both studied Fine Art, at the University of Leeds in 2005. During this period we worked on a series of collaborations and projects.
AB: Can you outline any relevant history about the Rogue Project Space and your relationship to it?
TA: In terms of my past relationship with Rogue Project Space, I was quite keen to do something with the space as at the time I wasn’t a member at Rogue, and I simply wanted to meet more artists. Since leaving university, and moving back to Manchester, I had realised the importance of an artist network and this was the main motivation for me to be at Rogue Studios.
A previous project I undertook here was Production of Curation which was awarded a Micro Commision by the Cornerhouse and Paul Hamlyn to realise the project. When Annie decided to move to Manchester we really started collaborating again since leaving art school and worked on a series of shows and exhibitions, including our Office Party events which were also held at Rogue Studios. These exhibitions started in our studio, was also initiated for the same reasons, to engage with artists at Rogue. What was interesting about them was that they provided a space for experimentation, where artists were not confined to their conventional practice. Then during the beginning of this year, the last committee of curators were coming to the end of their programme and the opportunity came up to run the project space, and it just seemed like the natural progression for us.
AB: What is the current show New Turn?
TA: We launched our programme , Ahmed & Carpenter presents… last week. The inaugural show was a screening with a fictional organisation called New Turn, conceptualised by the artist Thomas Yeomans. The idea was that we would be blurring the lines of authorship between us as artist/curators, with the pseudo-organisation, and the artist who for most part of the process remained anonymous. It sets the tone for the whole programme, which is all about examining our authorial identity as both artists and curators.
AB: What do you have planned for your programme at Rogue?
TA: The programme will be quite diverse; we plan to have mix of exhibitions, residencies as well as smaller events such as screenings, talks and workshops. The next project we are working is a collaboration with AND Festival and artist Heath Bunting, where we are hosting an artist residency who will adopt a new identity. We are also planning an exhibition that will coincide with our Open Studios, which will be titled Fayre. We have provisionally listed some artists we want to work with, but mainly we want to keep the process as fluid as we can.
AB: Has anything taken you by surprise working on the project space and has there been any unexpected or tangential outcomes so far?
TA: There have been many surprises along the way, and I suspect there will be many more. It’s the nature of the space really, as an artists’ studios and project space, it is totally different from working in a conventional gallery, which makes the whole thing very exciting. We’re essentially developing a curatorial process as we go along, and that requires us to be fairly dexterous when it comes to problem solving. Starting a programme from scratch is challenging but this is the best learning experience we’ve ever had.
AB: What recommendations and advice do you have for artists/curators running project spaces in similar situations?
TA: Define your own position. Develop a clear authorial ethos which works for you. Be realistic but resourceful, sometimes just asking the right person can achieve great results.
Learn how to compromise and negotiate situations so all parties are content with the outcomes. Understand your own limitations and seek help when you need it. Don’t be shy to tell people what you are doing, because you never know who will be interested. Enjoy yourself because the if you not excited about what you’re doing, the chances are no one else will be either.
AB: Are you currently looking for collaborators?
TA: Yes, in some respects. Collaborations has become one of those elastic terms, that seems to be all encompassing but somehow becomes increasingly vague. We will want to continually investigate these collaborative practices, and define new terms within the space. In practice, the objective of collaboration is to achieve something mutually advantageous and greater than you would be able to on your own. In terms of collaborations, we would want to take it further, regionally and internationally, ideally connect with collectives with similar ethos.
For more information:
Rogue Artists Studios & Project Space, Chapeltown Street, Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 2WH
Facebook: Ahmed & Carpenter
Alice Bradshaw is an artist, curator, researcher and writer based in West Yorkshire. She is currently curating a series of Pecha Kucha Night events at the Hepworth Wakefield.