Discovery Curator Announced

Charlotte Jansen

Photo London is delighted to announce Charlotte Jansen as the new curator of Discovery.


‘’We’re delighted that Charlotte is joining us and we cannot stress enough the importance of the Discovery section in supporting young galleries and their artists.” – Kamiar Maleki, Director.


Charlotte discusses her new role and and her thoughts on Photo London’s Discovery in the interview below:


Hi Charlotte, can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a writer and critic predominantly – I’ve written about contemporary photography and art for fifteen years, including two books on photography, ‘Girl on Girl’, which was published in 2017 by LKP and ‘Photography Now’, published by Ilex/Tate in 2021. 

I also hosted the ‘Female Gaze’ series of the ‘Dior Talks’ podcast , which is deep dive into women from different generations working in various areas of photography, including Brigitte Lacombe, Maripol and to younger artists such as Nadine Ijewere and Harley Weir.  

My primary interest in writing and curating photography is the connection that it has to the world beyond it – photography’s relationship with community, and social justice issues – but also its impact on our day to day lives. These are things that I tend to write about and think of in my own practice.


Could you share your initial impressions of our Discovery section and what aspects of it you find most compelling?

The Discovery section at Photo London has always been, for me, the most exciting area of the fair. As the name implies, it’s where you might find things that you’ve never seen before, which is quite a rarity these days, given our image saturated culture. 

I follow the path previous curators Tristan Lund and Tim Clark have carved out for this space over the years to establish a space within this commercial context for risk taking and experimentation. It is vital to this ecosystem to have an area to encounter different kinds of projects outside the conventional gallery model, as well as different propositions about what photography might be and how it might be presented. That’s definitely something that I want to continue building on at the fair.


Are there any specific highlights from previous years, and what are you looking forward to most about this next edition?

I’m really looking forward to bringing back some of the exhibitors from last year, including Koop Projects who were one of my favourite discoveries last year. They are a very new (founded in 2022) project based in Brighton seeking to create meaningful exchange between artists working in and around Brighton and those on the African continent. I think this is a really interesting model, in thinking about fostering the future of photography, working as an exhibition space but also a social forum. I also love the idea of looking locally at global perspectives and also decentring the idea of western-image making as the dominant influence.


What motivated you to take this role?

In part it was the chance to be the first female curator for Discovery, an important moment, but I’ve been engaging with Photo London’s programme over the years, both as a visitor and as someone who’s participated in the talks programme with photographers, galleries, and artists. This is an incredible opportunity and platform to bring some of the ideas and conversations  that I’ve been pursuing over the years to life in a physical space in a world class city, amongst some of the pioneers of the medium working today. I’m excited to get to dive into the research and see what new things we can bring to the table, how we can challenge the way we think about and interact with photography, and the way that photography is bought and sold.  I hope to also create a space for conversation and contemplation and not just transactions!


What do you hope that people will get a sense of when they are in Discovery?

It’s early days now but I really hope that people will come and be surprised. I’d love to make somebody cry and I’d love to make somebody laugh! And to maybe get a sense of what the next phase of photography might be like. 


Could you share more about your interest in emerging artists and galleries?

Yes, I have always gravitated towards the emerging and less established, because there  still a sense of the unknown I find really exciting. There’s still a feeling of playfulness and experimentation and possibility – When ideas are nascent and artists haven’t become jaded. It’s also a way of looking to the future, as artists and photographers have always been very much at the forefront of pushing new cultural ideas, thinking about other kinds of societal shifts.  It might not be perfect yet in terms of practices, or in terms of how galleries are running, it might still be a little bit messy, a little bit chaotic, but there’s a kind of magic and alchemy at that stage of a gallery’s life – it’s all to play for. I hope this all translates into the atmosphere at Discovery in 2024.


Can you describe your curating experience, and perhaps talk about how your experience as a writer influences your practice as a curator?

The project I am most proud of was ‘Birth’ at TJ Boulting, who’s one of the fairs’ regular exhibitors. I worked with Hannah Watson, the Director, to bring together around 20 artists – including Tracey Emin, Agnes Varda, Carmen Winant, Paula Rego, Maisie Cousins and Poulomi Basu who had responded to the moment of childbirth in different ways. I felt that show was about getting to the core of our shared  humanity through visual expression, seeing something that is universal and yet universally unseen. And of course it came out of a lot of cherished discussions and dialogue with artists of all backgrounds and walks of life – which is really important in my work as a writer, too. I see my role more as a mediator or translator.

That exhibition really summed up what I want to do in all my work – to look where no-one else is, to make space for what we overlook. 


The ninth edition of Photo London will take place at Somerset House from 16 – 19 May. Photo London 2024 will feature a solo exhibition of new work by next year’s Master of Photography, along with group shows and the acclaimed Talks Programme, the Discovery section, which presents works from the frontiers of photography, alongside an impressive line-up of exhibitors coming from across the globe.