It’s time to introduce our second co-host for our upcoming symposium, Leyla Tahir. Leyla is a curator and Tate Collective’s Producer in Digital where she commissions and produces multi platform digital content and manages Tate’s channels for young audiences. Her relationship with Tate began at 17 years old when she joined Tate Collective, working on free events and projects for young people aged 15-25. After finishing her BA in Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins (during which she continued working at Tate) she began to take on bigger projects working closely on Tate’s Hyperlink Festival and curating the Source display, as well as getting W Project involved on a project at the Tate Modern Tanks (W Project’s Superwoman I, 2012).
Having been involved with a renowned art institutions like Tate since the age of 17, who better to ask than Leyla Tahir for her opinion on women in art and why she thinks curation from a diverse female perspective plays such a significant role in moving things forward, “When you realise that for the majority of history, women and their images have been narrated by men, you understand that diverse curatorial perspectives are vital to moving things forward, or even just catching up! Curators are powerful people; the choices they make have the power to construct narratives, present arguments, and alter histories. It’s the role of the curators to champion representation, and in the 21st century it’s vital to strive towards showing the real, full history of art. This means celebrating the work and stories of women, artists of colour, non-Europeans and queer artists who have formed and continue to be part of art history but have been overlooked for various reasons.Curators who come from broad and diverse backgrounds should generate equally diverse work that challenges convention, changes narratives and moves curatorial practice, museums and audiences forward.”
On that note, we wanted to know what she’d like to see evolve the most within the art world, especially from your her personal and curatorial point of view. “More diversity and more democracy. Art is for everyone, not just the elite. The internet has enabled much broader access to culture and creativity for communities across the globe, but physical art spaces have got some catching up to do. I think the art world could learn a lot from the way the web has empowered people and enabled creation of communities, movements, and DIY cultures, often as a response to the lack of opportunities on offer in conventional art spaces. Recognising emerging, marginal and developing art practices, and creating spaces to showcase them would democratise the often hierarchical art spaces, and encourage more diverse audiences to participate in them”, says Tahir.
Tate recently published an article speaking about how we can support women in art and one of their proposals is to attend a symposium hosted by women for women. Leyla tells us why regular events like our upcoming W Project x Tate Exchange symposium remain such an important part of the process towards a more diverse representation of artists, be it inside or outside of the gallery space, “The dialogue around diversity, representation and democracy is constantly evolving – even faster in the current social/political climate. It’s crucial to regularly address these topics to remain relevant, respond to and be reflective of the changing world around us. Proactively trying to redress the balance and address disparities in the representation of artists is key. Tokenism isn’t enough. Events like the W Project x Tate Exchange symposium, which provide a space for dialogue and debate between artists, gallery, and the public, have massive potential to create real-time change.”