Mika Benesh


Inter-disciplinary Artist (Jewellery, Object Design, Print-making, Textiles, Photography and Illustration)

Bachelor of Design | 3rd Year

Hey Mika! So firstly, how did you get started as an interdisciplinary artist and what drew you towards that?

I suppose I started working in an interdisciplinary way by integrating my photography with drawing -- drawing photographs that I'd taken, and drawing on pages I'd already printed photos on. From there I became really interested in bookmaking, and presenting different mediums in a unified manner. It's all trial and error really! I was drawn to it just because I felt restricted by a single medium -- I wanted the opportunity to experiment. Some ideas are better communicated through writing or illustration than textiles or metalwork.

Even though you're interdisciplinary, do you have a favourite medium to work with?

It's hard as hell, but I love when I have a chance to print on silk and glass. There's lots of accidents and cuts / burns / mess involved but the results are so worth it. Because the process is so organic, you can't replicate the results and it's different every time. I also like casting in silver, when I can afford it.

You were involved with Kudos Gallery's Intimate Circulations exhibition recently, where you mailed your zines to audience members, which is a pretty interesting take. As an artist, how was the experience? Was it different in comparison to exhibiting in a gallery or participating in a zine fair?

Intimate Circulations was wonderful and so, so innovative. The curators, Audrey Pfister and Em Size, were just incredible in conceptualising the project and working with the artists to bring everything together. I felt that it gave me a chance to explore ideas that really deeply inform my work but are a bit too vulnerable for me to feel comfortable explicitly exhibiting in a gallery; ideas about Judaism, transgender personhood, and family. My work has always been very tactile and intimate, and I hate just putting it on a wall. The opportunity to make little zines that audience members could actually hold and read in their homes was kinda perfect for my practice.

I also saw that you participated in the MCA Zine Fair this year! How was it?

The MCA Zine Fair was wonderful! I love the community, and being able to connect with so many like-minded people. I've met some of my closest friends at zine fairs. They're so much fun.

Leading on from that, do you have a favourite exhibition or zine fair that you participated in?

My absolute favourite exhibition that I've done was "Recover / Reorient" at Kudos Gallery with my best friend Naomi Segal last year. We've both grown a lot since then, but that show was so pivotal. We were exploring cultural recovery and family in the works we made both together and separately for the show. We hadn't made anything we'd proposed in our application, and we only had a two month turnaround! It was a hectic summer and definitely cemented our friendship. Since then, we've both been working hard, and thinking a lot about the politics of diaspora(s), especially as it relates to our artmaking. I'm really looking forward to us coming together in a couple years for another show, when we're ready.

You've also got a pretty good following of 22.5k on Instagram and post your work/processes there. Do you have any tips and tricks for a budding artist who's looking to start their own gram?

I'm actually kind of glad you asked, because I have a lot to say about Instagram, but it's not what you're hoping to hear. I think social medias were certainly once fantastic platforms for emerging artists to put themselves out there and gain recognition for their work, but a lot's changed in recent years, especially with algorithms shifting to prioritise long-term engagement or paid sponsorship over chronology. It pressures artists and designers to constantly be churning out new work for the sake of recognition, and prioritises quantity over quality. And at the same time, it doesn't seem to allow for much experimentation. There's this pressure to present a cohesive practice or "personal brand" on instagram, which isn't very conductive to an emerging artist's practice.

It pressures artists and designers to constantly be churning out new work for the sake of recognition, and prioritises quantity over quality. And at the same time, it doesn't seem to allow for much experimentation.

There's also the question of arts institutions relying on social media for engagement, funding, and curatorial decision-making. You can see this in the notable shift in big galleries such as the MCA and the NGV making their exhibitions more "Instagrammable". It raises questions about what kind of art we're broadly prioritising and consuming. I've seen more than one "Insta-famous" artist I've looked up to delete their social media, saying that they felt their practice was stifled by the pressure to consistently produce a specific style, or an unrealistic amount of work.

I barely share anything of my work on Instagram these days.. Most of it isn't well-suited to the platform. I worry about galleries that are known for finding a majority of their programmed artists through instagram -- again, these practices prioritise certain kinds of work over others. Anyway, I've lost more than six thousand followers in the last year. I think I'll throw a party if I drop below twenty thousand. 

I really want to encourage emerging artists to look outside of social media for recognition and connection in arts communities. Submitting to publications, applying for zine fairs and attending community events (no matter how small!) can be super meaningful and formative ways to make connections and get feedback from others. Having an online portfolio can be super handy, 100%. I just started out with a tumblr. It's a good way to keep track of your work, and share it with anyone who might be interested.

Do you have any artists that inspire you and your work?

Loads! I'm very inspired by my loved ones, but there's lots of artists who I admire from a distance too. A definitely non-exhaustive list: Chaya Kasif, Naomi Segal, Francesca Zak, Stanislava Pinchuk, Zaiba Khan, Valerie Schlosberg, Isabella Kressin, Ellen Taylor, Sophie Levy, Harley Weir, Anthony Cudahy, David Bielander, Arthur King, 90's Alexander McQueen, Andy Goldsworthy... I'm rambling.

And of course, we love being kept in the loop. Do you have any awesome projects that are coming up?

Well, it's not a *project*, but I'm going to Montreal this August for an exchange program at Concordia University. Super keen, and a little scared. I've never travelled on my own, or been away from home for six months. It's gonna be fantastic.

Final question - do you have anything you want to share with the world? Could be random shower thoughts, something deep or just a quick ramble.

Not really! I think I've rambled enough, haha. Thank you so much for having me!

Dylan Goh

Anakha Menon

Artist of the Week Gallery

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