AINT-BAD and Laney Contemporary share a strong working relationship.
Back when Susan Laney was at Oglethorpe Gallery, she hosted some of the publication’s first exhibitions. She’s always been a supporter of photography as a medium, both through her oversight of photographer Jack Leigh’s collection and through her support of local photographers.
“Collaborations,” on view at Laney Contemporary now through Aug. 10, is the result of a years-long partnership and the first exhibition of its kind to be held at the gallery.
The work for “Collaborations” was curated from the submissions for Aint-Bad Issue 13, which came out last fall.
Laney, who curated both the exhibition and the issue, was joined by her Laney Contemporary partner Allison Westerfield and by Aint-Bad’s Taylor Curry, Carson Sanders, and Lisa Jaye Young.
The issue had 14 curators, and they went through submissions by around 900 artists.
“We just worked together,” says Laney. “We picked what we thought would be best for the exhibition, and sometimes the actual work on the wall isn’t in the publication, but the artist’s work is. That was fun because we had more to choose from, and it came together so beautifully.”
In addition to the work for the exhibition, Aimée Beaubein created an installation for Laney’s mirrored room, which has been a point of fascination and experiment for exhibiting artists since Laney’s opening.
“[Aimée] teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago, so she flew in from Chicago, put together the installation in four days, freaked out over this room,” remembers Laney. “It was fun to have her energy and her excitement in here. She’s fairly new to installation work—she’s been doing it for two or three years and it’s interesting to see the different kinds of installations she’s done. This one is very different, just because he space is, but also her weaving the photographs and her presentation is different for this.”
While the curators initially intended to keep the submissions within the country, they were able to include some work by a Japanese and a South Korean photographer, which is a great opportunity for Savannah’s viewers.
“We’re presenting work that really has not been seen in this region and is something very different, something we haven’t come close to doing before,” says Laney. “This exhibition is very different from everything else, mainly because of the breadth of work. It’s not just one piece from one photographer. We really zeroed in on Aint-Bad as a publication, the reason for Aint-Bad, the vision of these photographers and the vision of Aint-Bad looking out into what’s going on in photography today.”
“We’ve always, from the beginning, wanted to simply promote the collection and appreciation of contemporary photography, and have it be as affordable as possible,” says Sanders. “Selling a less expensive book or magazine allows more people to collect work from an artist, and having the opportunity to do exhibitions like this really brings home that fine-art aspect of Aint-Bad. To see these beautiful framed works on the wall give the ability for our serious collectors to pick up some works from photographers that may not have been shown in this region before.”
Since its inception in 2011, Aint-Bad’s vision has remained the same, even as staff has come and gone.
“From the very beginning, I’ve been interested in how this group of people, very talented photographers with different talents and skill sets [came together],” says Laney. “They have so many people working with Aint-Bad that are working remotely, which has really been interesting because at first, it was all based here, and as people moved away and took jobs in different places, they stayed connected and it created this incredible community. It’s just been interesting to see how it grew over the years.”
“It’s evolved a lot,” joins Sanders. “We’ve always walked this line between, ‘Is it a book or a magazine?’ It certainly feels more like a book now, but it still is treated like a magazine with a fairly affordable cover price. If you find it in a bookstore, it’s going to be in the magazine section, not on the shelves next to hardcover photography books.”
As Aint-Bad marks eight years, Sanders thinks about its future.
“The vision has been the same, and it’s expanded,” says Sanders. “We’re trying to grow our business, we’re trying to grow ourselves as artists, as creatives, pushing. Taylor [Curry] does all our graphic design, so he’s pushing his creativity to keep up with the trends of various other publications as well as books. The work we’re showing has to be desirable to a large audience or people are going to go to another website or publication to look at work. We’re always trying to push the boundaries and expand ourselves.”