Mei runs the oldest store in New York’s Chinatown and tells me about her decision to take on the family business, facing the threat of gentrification (of which galleries are a big part), setting up the W.O.W Project in response, and the significance of her doing so as a young woman.
After having taken her Improv 101 course at UCB, Chelsea gives me my feedback and some extra lessons as well. She also tells me about originally intending to be a painter but instead finding improv, her approaches to teaching, how it differs to coaching, and how improv helped with her social anxiety.
Carolina speaks about growing up in “very rural” Sweden, leaving home at the age of sixteen, her early beginnings as a graffiti artist, becoming a mother, reawakening her New York alias, Swedish humour, and the story behind that particular painting on the side of a building in lower Manhattan.
Ken and Julia tell me about their journey into becoming an artist duo, playing John and Yoko, how living in beautiful places increases your environmental concerns, and the experience of starting a farm in rural Japan. Then I discuss with Raul our shared love of benches, the most beautiful bench in the world, his literal allergy to painting, and much more we seem to have in common.
David shares with me his experience of being seen as too bohemian to continue his duty to the Israeli army, defining himself as an Arab Jew, being Mizrahi in a mainly Ashkenazi high school, his early sense of taste, his love of art, of teaching art, and the value of being generous.
Knut talks to me about touring a video work around in a lorry, the usefulness of ambivalence, his most recent film made on either side of the Norwegian / Russian border, filming in military zones, and trying to establish new possibilities for people to be able to make artist produced films.
Jim Costanzo of the Aaron Burr Society stops by to talk about working for the US Army in Germany, studying intermedia in Ohio, joining REPOhistory, the president of the New York Stock Exchange complaining about their work, occupying Wall Street, and the story of Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
Remy tells me about growing up in Suriname, giving up the comforts of working as a mechanical engineer to become an artist, moving to Amsterdam after an invitation to study at the Rietveld Academie, being considered a ‘Dutch Master of the 21st Century’, and how visiting his family altar had a profound effect on his artistic perspective.
Sonia joins me to talk about making work for and within her local area of Harlem, performing in and in spite of the rain, the benefits of improvisation, authentic movement, being an amateur (at some things), fairly paying artists, and how her work could be considered as singing without singing.
Elisabeth speaks to me about never intending to be an artist, the Danish festival of Fastelavn, cats in barrels, elevators, directing ants, our childhood fears, and how facing her own fears is often the starting point for many of her works.
Anna tells me about what it was like growing up in the remote town of Kaustinen, Finland, working on the Finnish Big Brother TV show, studying at the Department of Time and Space; the dailyness of the studio, dressage, always wanting to be a dancer and how that is informing her latest film work.
Joe gives what he describes as the most comprehensive account of his life he has ever given, from circumnavigating the failings of comprehensive education, his unlikely and grievous route to becoming an artist, and to how moving to America gave him a greater perspective on racism in Britain.
Josie shares her thoughts on silliness, confidence, skills (or lack thereof), being too emotionally connected to your work, art not always making you feel good, feeling special, status, and tells me the story behind that (in)famous graduation photograph of her holding her degree with bandaged hands.
After getting through over thirty jobs by his mid-twenties and just before setting off to serve as a combat medic, Stephen made the decision to give it up and enrol on an Art & Design Access course at Wirral Met College. Only a few years later I now catch up with him upon his return from participating in the Karachi Biennial, Pakistan.
Jade tells me about her complex but clearly loving relationship with living in Scarborough and a little bit of what that entails, the discomfort of making others comfortable, the duty of care of artistic institutions, the officer class, and shares an unsuccessful proposal with a really quite serious anecdote.
Jenny talks to me on the morning of her exhibition opening about being asked to unofficially do O-level art, studying tapestry with no interest in making tapestries, making time for your work, and the deeper aspect of her latest series that she doesn’t necessarily want the viewer to know about.
Geri stops by to chat about not giving too much of your material away on the internet (hence why I’ve ended up cutting quite a bit out), undergoing life coaching, artist guilt, trying to be less apologetic and less dependent on inner turmoil to help make your work. Then I meet with Tyler whilst he’s over in the UK researching Garth Evans’ artist placement at British Steel, which may have had some big implications, and we talk pedagogy, precarity and their combined perpetuation.
Testament joins me to discuss conscious rap, the Leeds 13, William Blake, Christian fundamentalism, his latest show WOKE, trying to be a better feminist, and tells me the story behind his beatboxing Guinness world record and the unexpected place where it can help.
James talks to me about the significant role his mother played in his artistic development, doing his foundation course twice, running around Leeds Art Gallery naked, the many anxieties and pressures we experience as artists, curators, or even what we call ourselves, and how ego can make for bad exhibitions.