As the Editor-in-Chief at PHROOM magazine, Giangiacomo Cirla has interviewed artists pushing the boundaries of the photographic medium, from the collage artist Sheida Soleimani to the mixed-media innovator Siwa Mgoboza. Eschewing the conventional or the expected, he’s always on the lookout for work that surprises him or redefines our understanding of what photography is–and what it can be.
This year, Cirla will be one of the judges of the 7th Annual Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards. To coincide with our open call for submissions, we asked him about his work at PHROOM and beyond. Entries for the Emerging Photography Awards close on September 3rd, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST.
Please tell us about your role as Editor-in-Chief at PHROOM.
“My work at PHROOM is extremely interesting, allowing me the opportunity to constantly discover new artists and projects from all over the world, while also keeping in touch with many artists with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate over the years. My responsibilities are varied, some more tedious and managerial and others much more stimulating and creative. What interests me most about my job is the constant and endless research.”
What makes PHROOM a unique and special place to work, and what inspires you most about the platform?
“The PHROOM platform is a fluid environment that can adapt itself to different circumstances, and that requires a great deal of discipline but also the keen ability to imagine the future. PHROOM is special because of the people who work here–people who have found each other and who, despite the many differences between them, have a common goal and are willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve it.
“The most interesting aspect of our platform is definitely that we have a dynamic and changing environment. We know who we are, but at the same time, we are not afraid of new things. Nowadays, when everything feels as though it needs to be defined or limited, the ability to work in an environment that has no real definition and is able to change on a daily basis is very valuable.”
Speaking of imagining the future, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve observed in the photo industry in recent years, and how do you see these changes influencing the future of the industry?
“Undoubtedly, there has been a kind of homogenization due to globalization. In some ways, the ever-increasing connection between individuals from all over the world and the ease of finding information that is foreign to us has led to a flattening of uniqueness. What might once have been characteristics common to certain geographical areas are slowly disappearing to make way for global macro-currents. A contemporary aesthetic is being created that is less and less related to the roots and culture of the individual. Fortunately, there are authorial practices that stoically resist this temptation and continue to offer something unique. These practices are the ones I am most interested in.”
Your gallery, Office Project Room in Milan, will open a new exhibition space in September. How did you first land at OPR, and what have been some of your proudest moments in your time as Director?
“Office Project Room is another extremely exciting project, separate from PHROOM but with a lot in common. The gallery was created three years ago as a project room by a well-known collector who wanted to immerse himself further into the contemporary art scene by producing exhibitions and promoting young and mid-career artists. I started managing the space two years ago, and the intention since my arrival has been to grow the project into a real gallery.
“We have taken advantage of this pandemic year to find a new, larger space, where we will continue our growth. Over the years, I have worked with so many good artists, and with some of them, our journey together is not yet over. Now that the project has grown, I need to raise the bar even higher, and that is exactly what is happening.
“Looking back, I am proud to have presented exhibitions by Synchrodogs, Liza Ambrossio, Matteo Cremonesi, Piero Roi, and Marinos Tsagkarakis. I can tell you that the new name of the gallery will be OPR Gallery (this is one of the first times I have spoken publicly about it!). I can’t wait for September to start the new artistic season and finally unveil our plans for next year.”
What will you be looking for when judging submissions to the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards?
“I will pay a lot of attention to projects that are able to tell me something about the identity and experience of the author through images. I am interested in the unique, the unseen. If I really have to tell you what I’m going to lose my mind over, it’s going to be critical and angry projects. We are living in a very difficult historical period (not only because of COVID), and it would be strange to find, for example, only pictures of beautiful landscapes.”
This year’s Emerging Photography Awards comprises two categories, one for single images and another for series. Giangiacomo Cirla will be one of our single-image jurors. Learn more about the awards, our judges, and our prizes over on our website.