Kudos Interview: Claudia Roosen

Elaine Kim, a current Masters of Curating and Cultural Leadership student, interviews Claudia Roosen, a curator and producer, about Roosen’s experience working as the Kudos Intern in 2015. 

Image: Claudia Roosen by Zan Wimberley 2019 

Q. What motivated you to work at Kudos Gallery? 

Kudos Gallery was the nexus of student life at UNSWA&D (then, COFA). I frequently attended openings and became friends with Dara Gill, who was the Director at the time. I was encouraged by people around campus to become part of the Kudos Committee, which I enjoyed a lot! I then applied for the internship position and was successful! 

I wanted to work in the arts and the internship was both working in the arts and developing my skills. I saw that this opportunity would teach me things I couldn't learn at Uni. 


Q. When you worked at Kudos Gallery, how did you balance your Uni studies with your time? 

I will admit that I didn't balance them well. I prioritised working at Kudos over giving attention to my studies. While in undergrad, I spent a lot of time focussing on extracurricular activities because I saw that the experience was worth it. I wasn't the best student, but I like to think I gave Kudos my all! 


Q. Did you have any experience making mistakes whilst you were working at Kudos Gallery? 

Absolutely, there were times when I missed deadlines or organised meetings poorly. I broke one of Jodie Whalen's artworks, but that actually brought us closer as friends. 


Q. Who was your mentor when you were working at Kudos Gallery? 

Dara Gill was the director at the time and a mentor of mine while I was there. I learned a lot from him and we had a really good relationship. He definitely pushed me to do more than what I thought I was capable of. 


Q. When you worked at Kudos Gallery what did you focus on? 

I focused on the White Cube program which was developed by Jenny Alaca during her internship and I also curated my own exhibition, "All Stations To". 


Q. What were the most memorable exhibition and artists in Kudos Gallery? 

I remember all of the exhibitions I worked on equally! You get to spend quality time with the artists during install and when promoting the event. 


Q. What criteria did you use to decide which curators or artists you would like to work with at Kudos? 

For general programming, there was a call-out to all students to submit applications. Which were then assessed by the Kudos Committee which consisted of volunteers and the Kudos staff.
For the exhibition I curated, I followed a curatorial premise that spotlighted artists from Western Sydney from different stages of their careers. 


Q. What is your current job? Are you still working for art? 

Since Kudos, all of my jobs have been in arts organisations besides my current job. I'm currently working for a small community service organisation part-time. This is so I have time to focus on my independent curatorial practice. 


Q. It is perceived by many people that 'it is difficult to make a living working as an artist. That is why many students are hesitant to live as an artist or work in the art world in the future. Do you have any advice for them? 

The arts sector is an ecosystem and if you want to be part of it you will need to find a place where your practice sits. Collaborating with peers and learning from mentors usually will help you find this place. 

I would be hesitant to call this sector or industry the "art world", I think it glamourises an industry that runs on labour, the same as any other industry.  


Q. What kind of meaning do you want the Kudos gallery to add to people's lives? 

Kudos Gallery has always been a welcome space for students to get together, meet each other, make mistakes and learn. I hope it continues to provide this opportunity to students and hopefully without charging them.
It would also be awesome if Kudos could begin to pay artist fees. 


Q. Humans are emotional beings who constantly express themselves creatively. I believe that human imagination and spiritual power are expressed in culture and art. Without the arts and culture, creativity will decline and society will be barren. What do you think is the pure function of art? How would our lives be different without art? 

I think contemporary art functions as an avenue to explore ideas and concepts that need to be explored and to link concepts that haven't previously been linked. 

It gives voice to experimentations, conversation, interrogation and growth.  

I don't think art operates outside of our lives. It's interwoven and part of everything. Our lives could not exist without art, our evolution would have been stunted as pre-human creatures. 


Claudia Roosen is a curator and producer working and living on Dharug and Gundungarra land with an interest in community-led arts and contemporary practice. Their practice challenges institutions, prioritises equity and encourages community agency. They are interested in practices that critique colonial and capitalist narratives.

While completing a Bachelor of Art Theory at UNSW Art & Design, they were the elected Engagement Officer on the Student Council, received a paid internship with Kudos Gallery and were part of the Brightside Program; an artistic mentoring program. Claudia has worked for five years in various visual arts contexts at organisations including Kaldor Public Art Projects, Carriageworks, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (MAAS), the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.). In 2019 they held the position of Chair and Co-Director of Firstdraft gallery