The Curated Fridge : Suntaxis

Somverville, MA • February 2018


As Refridcurator I had the distinct pleasure of culling though over 100 mailed submissions for the Winter Exhibit of the Curated Fridge, the brainchild of Yorgos Efthymiadis. In the attached curatorial statement I speak to the process of curating. Editing is followed by sequencing, with the limitations of the fridge not dissimilar to those of a conventional gallery. The sequence is the dialog of your narrative. This story contained images from over 40 photographers from the U.S. and abroad.


Curating is one method of communicating within the visual language of photography. A curator forms sentences, builds phrases, constructs paragraphs and writes stories with images. The written word is governed by grammar and the structural rules of linguistics. Syntax provides guidelines to sequence a well-formed sentence. The Greek origin of syntax (suntaxis) = together + arrange. I believe syntax is an apt synonym for curating.

I resonate with the description of curating given by Hans Ulrich Obist, the visionary art curator, critic and historian, given in his frenetically informative TED/Marrakesh talk. Curating he states is a filtering, synthesizing, framing, remembering and enabling activity which bridges art and science. His observations ride the cusp of the tsunami of cultural change which globalization and digitization has created in the art world. He notes how we have expanded far from the original provenance of curators as the protectors and interpreters of our valuable art and cultural objects. Ironically, Obist began his illustrious curating career with a kitchen-based exhibit.

The poet Billy Collins perfectly describes my experience of curating this Winter Exhibit of the Curated Fridge in his poem Winter Syntax ……Bare branches in winter are a form of writing. The unclothed body is autobiography. Every lake is a vowel, every island a noun……

I held each printed image and selected my verbs and nouns. Bare tree branches and decorated toes, sun through windows and light thru a panel of doors. A birdhouse, antlers, a blooming poppy, and the curled tail of a sea creature. Leaves floating in a parking lot puddle speak as clearly as a bitten lip or the rolling eyes of a young black boy. Pigtails, a lace camisole and striped stockings evoke mystery and beckon my imagination and yours.

All photography is an exploration of light. The experience of looking can lead to a deeper experience of seeing. Seeing leads us to the illusive and intangible place where

the viewer and the maker meet. The philosopher, Roland Barthes, describes this nexus, the wordless encounter in suspended space, as punctum. Here the soundless language of feeling which an image projects is received by the viewer in their heart.

J. Sybylla Smith