The Decolonising Lens Part 7: Gaëtane Verna & Mark Sealy on Cultural Turns

Wednesday 9th November

Mark Sealy and Gaëtane Verna discuss the urgencies and complexities of programming within cultural institutions


In this seventh instalment of the webinar-series ‘The Decolonising Lens’ Mark Sealy will be in conversation with art historian and arts administrator Gaëtane Verna, discussing the urgencies and complexities of programming within cultural institutions. Looking back over Verna’s career, running leading institutions, notably the Powerplant in Toronto and recently the Wexner Centre for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio , the pair will cover the challenges of building a programme with diversity at its core, and the building of audiences that have been historically marginalised. Crucially, they will consider what “change” might or does look like within the cultural sphere.

Professor Mark Sealy

Mark Sealy is interested in the relationship between photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. He is Professor of Photography, Rights and Representation at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.

Sealy has been the executive director of photographic arts charity Autograph ABP since 1991 and has produced numerous publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide. Sealy has guest lectured and devised study programmes for arts and academic institutions around the world. He has written extensively for international photography and art publications. Lawrence Wishart have published Sealy’s more recent critical writings on photography. These titles include Photography: Race, Rights and Representation (2022) and Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time (2019). He has been awarded the Hood Medal by the Royal Photographic Society and a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award for services to photography (2013). His recent curatorial projects include From Here to Eternity (2022), the first major retrospective of UK based photographer Sunil Gupta, and an exhibition of work by American Photographer Tyler Mitchel across sites in Toronto for the 2022 CONTACT Photography Festival.

Gaëtane Verna

Gaëtane Verna is an art historian and arts administrator. She is the Executive Director of the Wexner Centre for the Arts. Previously, she was Director and Artistic Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (2012–22), Toronto, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Musée d’art de Joliette (2006–12) and was Curator of the Foreman Art Gallery at Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke (1999–2006), while also teaching in the Art History department of both Bishop’s University and the Université du Québec à Montréal. Verna holds an International Diploma in Heritage Administration and Conservation from the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris and received a DEA and master’s degree in Art History from the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. Verna has years of experience in curating, publishing catalogues, and presenting exhibitions by emerging, mid-career, established artists. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Holt/Smithson Foundation, the Sobey Art Foundation and the Advisory Committee of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora. In 2017, she was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government.

Brigitte Lardinois

Brigitte Lardinois is a currently the Director of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) at the University of the Arts London. She is a curator, writer and lecturer, specialising in photography and curation. Her current research focus is the Edward Reeves Archive in Lewes, established in 1855 and believed to be the oldest still operating photographic Studio in the world. Lardinois has curated numerous photography exhibitions both in her capacity as Photographic Curator at the Barbican Art Gallery and as the head of the Cultural Department at Magnum Photos. These include group exhibitions such as Magnum Ireland, as well as solo shows for Henri Cartier-Bresson and many others. Her published work includes editing Eve Arnold’s ‘People’ and Magnum Magnum.