BY Sarah Josie

This interview with Anna May Kirk – the Coordinator of AD Space – was conducted by Sarah Josie, as part of a four-part series of interviews related to artists, arts spaces and infrastructure in New South Wales. 

When did you start studying at UNSW and how long have you been working and studying at COFA?

I’ve been at UNSW Art & Design for about 5 years now. It feels like I’m perpetually doing my undergrad of Fine Art! I started studying here in 2014 before I left for a year to do a traineeship at the MCA, then I came back…then left again to work on Underbelly Arts Festival in 2017, so it’s been pretty irregular!

What motivated you to get into a career in the arts?

Oddly it’s something I’ve never really questioned, it’s always been something I’ve been really drawn to, whether that’s making art, curating or organising.

Did you draw a lot as a kid?

I used to draw all over any surface that was available to me. I used to draw a lot on the bathtub with permanent markers. I imagine my parents have painful memories of finding my small 3-year-old scribbles all over the house.

What is your role at AD space?

I am the Gallery Coordinator of AD Space. My role includes coordinating AD Space’s exhibition program as well as the administrative duties that keep the gallery ticking. This year I’ve also founded three new programs at AD Space that sit in parallel to the exhibition program. The first of these programs is a performance workshop series called Movement Lab. Movement Lab facilitates emerging and established performance artists to lead movement workshops and teach students strategies for incorporating performance into their practice. The second is an interstate gallery swap which gives opportunities to students to exhibit interstate within a supported structure. And the third is a secret, stay tuned!

What was your first experience working in AD Space?

I’ve been working at AD Space as the Gallery Coordinator since February 2018, and my first experience of AD Space has been in this role!

Did you work in other galleries before that?

I’ve been really lucky to have worked across an array of different arts organisations and galleries over the past few years. Currently I work as the Executive Producer of Arts and Culture at FBi Radio in conjunction to my role at AD Space. Prior to this I’ve worked at Underbelly Arts, Alaska Projects, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Down / Under Space.

What emerging artist do you admire and that you want to give an honorable mention to?

I’m super obsessed with Lachlan Herd’s practice. He really unpacks the idea of multispecies care in such a poetic way… I’m so nerdy for it! The utilisation of bacteria and microorganisms often features in his work. When you think about it, only 1/10 of our cells are our ‘own’, the rest are bacteria, fungi etc. If we think about the body as an ecosystem, or as a home for many, rather than being so individualistic. I think that’s a really productive way of interacting with the world. With care.

What is your most memorable experience working in the arts?

I used to run an art party with Nerida Ross called ‘After pARTY’. We had so much fun and I have so many memorable experiences… printing Claudia Nicholson and Caroline Garcia’s face onto a cake then serving it in the middle of the dance floor, sourcing 30kgs of green goo for Angela Goh, staging a post-human photoshoot in my share house living room with Roslyn Helper, making a dance video with Rosie Deacon in Redfern Convenience Store… the list goes on.

What advice do you have for others looking into getting into the arts and working with gallery spaces?

I’d say be audacious! Do that thing you’ve been thinking about now! And embrace the friends, colleagues and community youhave around you with love and care. They are your guiding lights, ask questions, give and receive advice, share skills and work together <3

How do you work with a gallery space? Do you have a specific formula in what happens when it comes to organising an exhibition?

I think it should always be with the mentality of ‘artists first’.

Is there a specific medium that you like to work with personally?

I’ve recently been exploring using scent in my practice. It necessarily needs to be inhaled and enter the audiences body to be experienced. So it opens up really interesting questions of what happens when art resides in the body? And can art affect us biologically?

So you have these performance art workshops that you’ve started this year. Tell us a bit more about them.

Yes! Movement Lab is a performance workshop that AD Space has started this year that invites an emerging or established performance artist to lead two hours of movement. The aim is to create an environment where individuals can engage their body and learn how they might apply this to their practice. It’s been wonderful so far with workshops by Sarah Rodigari, Patricia Wood and Lizzie Thomson, and coming up this semester Ivey Wawn and Justin Shoulder will be leading classes.

Will you bring Sarah Rodagari back?

I’d love for her to come back. Maybe in term 3. The first two we did were experiments in how to structure it and I think one hour was too short. We will see how two hours goes. Maybe two hours is two short. You could really spend a whole day doing these things, really. These people have such a wealth of knowledge. It’s been amazing to see a little community form around these workshops, and I really hope that grows! You are learning and moving with one another, but perhaps these small groups will also grow into being support networks, places where ideas can be bounced around and works can be tested out.

This piece was produced in collaboration between Framework and Arcadia.

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