Collaborator's Corner: A Q&A with Robert Morat

A Search Towards the Origins of Movement, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2015 | DER GREIF
Image selected from Robert's Guest Room. Iris van Vliet - A Search Towards the Origins of Movement, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2015

Robert Morat is the gallery owner and founder of Robert Morat Galerie. The gallery pri­mar­ily fo­cused on emerg­ing artists in con­tem­po­rary pho­tog­ra­phy and photo-based art. Founded in Ham­burg, the gallery has since moved to Berlin and is now lo­cated on Lin­ien­strasse in the Mitte art dis­trict. Morat was a guest curator for Guest Room in 2015. Francesca, our Community Manager, caught up with Robert to see what he has been up to since his Guest Room.

Der Greif: Hi Robert, could you reflect on what it was like being a Guest Room guest curator? What did you take away from the process and our collaboration?

Robert: Eight years ago, in 2015, each Guest Room was curated for a month with a daily post of one or two images. I curated the month of December 2015 and I mostly remember the feeling of being overwhelmed when I realized that about 4500 images had been submitted! I selected two images per day that I felt were in an interesting dialog with each other, either visually or content wise. Some days I would select just one image, but it would be in some sort of relationship to the image I had chosen for the day before or the day after. It was a very intuitive, emotional process. You can still see my selection and with 4500 images to chose from, selecting 40 or 50 just meant a lot of looking. Then again, I do that for a living, so it wasn’t an entirely new experience

Fixed Badly, London, 2015 | DER GREIF
Image selected from Robert's Guest Room. Ronni Campana, Fixed Badly, London, 2015

Der Greif: Your Guest Room's theme might read very differently now. Do you think your approach to this theme would be different if you were to curate around it now?

Robert: At the time, I worked a reverse process. The theme of my Guest Room developed from looking at the submitted images, I formed the idea while looking through thousands of images. And that would still be the way I would do it today. You play the cards you’re dealt!

Der Greif: How has your career developed since Guest Room?

Robert: The time I curated the Guest Room was a very important moment in the career of my gallery. I had just taken the decision to close the Hamburg space after 11 years and to move to Berlin. In a way, it felt like a new beginning. It also felt a little like starting from scratch. But I’m happy to report that it worked out quite nicely and meant an important step up in visibility and also in business. We now work for a much bigger and much more international collector base.

Ute, The Unforgetting, 2014 | DER GREIF
Image selected from Robert's Guest Room. Peter Watkins, Ute, The Unforgetting, 2014

Der Greif: What would be your advice to “emerging” photographers now? What do you think makes someone stand out?

Robert: I still very much believe in the idea of a photographer as the „author“ of his images and what makes an author stand out is a unique voice, an individual, recognizable visual language. It takes time to develop that. Many young talents rush to the market instead of developing a position and letting the market come to them. „Take your time!“ is probably the advice I’d give.

Der Greif: Can you describe how you collaborate with others in your work? What role does collaboration play in your work?

Robert: Collaboration is the very essence of what I do. In different ways - there is the collaboration with an artist, foremost. Then there is the collaboration with curators, publishers, other galleries and finally, the collaboration with the client/collector. It all comes down to two things - communication and collaboration.

crystal #10, Inside The Pineapple, 2015 | DER GREIF
Image selected from Robert's Guest Room. Diane Vincent, crystal #10, Inside The Pineapple, 2015

Der Greif: Lastly, what image distribution systems [books/printed matter/websites/exhibitions/portfolio reviews/lectures and talks] are most relevant to your work and why?

Robert: Exhibitions certainly play the biggest role, be it in a museum, another gallery, a studio visit, at a festival or an art fair. The physical encounter with the work, the spatial experience of moving up to a print, stepping back, changing perspectives, having a conversation with the object to me still bears all the magic.