‘View from a Judgment Seat’-Quentin Bajac in conversation with Philip Gefter- Aperture Blog

Some short reflections on the article beyond its immediate relevance to section 5 EYV


Quentin Bajac- photo copyright Ed Alcock

I read with interest the referenced article on the aperture blog, highlighted in section 5 of EYV (pp105) because of the Paul Graham reference. Bloomfield’s (2014) reference to ideas developing and changing during the process of executing a project are of interest and link to my own emerging thoughts about practice dictating the final out come of a project rather than sticking slavishly to a concept from the start of a process, idea, project or assignment. I will pick this theme up later but I was also interested in the wider content of the article and this short reflective writing piece picks up some of these wider themes.

The interview sheds some light on the role of The Museum of Modern Art’s (MOMA) role on photography over a number of decades. MOMA known the world over as a centre of modern art with photography being a key area of its work.

Quentin Bajac as the then new curator (January 2013) is in conversation with Philip Gefter who writes about photography. The interview raises some interesting issues about the role of  MOMA in the development of photography as an art form over a number of years.

The role of curator of photography at MOMA has in the past been referred to as: the judgement seat of photography. Bajac clarifies this suggesting the the history of photography being written by MOMA is now in competition with histories of photography being written by other institutions internationally. In short MOMA is one of a number of judgment seats on photography.

The conversation also considers the historically american centric view of MOMA regarding photography, indeed implying the photography was seen as fundamentally being an america centric art form. Bajac quickly replies that this might have been the case in the past but MOMA is in a different place now. Indeed the appointment of a european as the curator is perhaps a way of amending this history.

When asked about the mark he would want to leave on the photography department at MOMA, given the high profile predecessors in the role: Beaumont Newhall, Edward Steichen, John Szarkowski, and Peter Galassi, Bajac replies:

“to leave the museum with a photography department and collection that is more fully integrated into the museum’s collections, more in dialogue with the other departments, and more global in scope.”

Is he perhaps suggesting that photography still sits outside the notion of art as seen in great galleries and collections? I am unsure, but it is an interesting thought to ponder!


Bloomfield, R. (2014) Photography 1, Expressing Your Vision, Open College of the Arts, Barnsley

Gefter, R. (2013) View from a Judgment Seat-Quentin Bajac in conversation with Philip Gefter found at: http://aperture.org/blog/view-judgment-seat-quentin-bajac-conversation-philip-gefter/ (Accessed December 2015)

Quentin Bajac’s background experience can be found at: Bajac


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