Interviews
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WWTD: In Conversation with Talia Smith

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are part of the create community in New Zealand.

This week we spoke to artist, curator and writer Talia Smith who is currently on a 6 month curatorial residency at Gaffa in Sydney. Read more for What Would

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Crazy, sexy, cool – I’m sorry I couldn’t help it. Actual words I would choose: Driven, foolish and funny.

If you were a mythical creature what would you be?

The Loch Ness monster

Tell us about your practice.

My photographic and video practice examines the marks and traces left from human interaction on spaces and landscape. I mainly focus on everyday spaces that we often take for granted and drive past each day without taking notice. This is something that I have been interested in for a long time, on long drives to and from New Plymouth to Auckland we would pass through small towns and industrial areas and I would always wonder what ever happened to these places? What have they become now? It is this transitory nature that draws me in and their ability to be strangely beautiful even when in complete ruin. At one point there was something there and perhaps it was not life changing or big in the scheme of world events but life was lived there once and I still believe that is important. I also have a collaborative art project called Single Brown Female, which is myself and Leilani Heather. This is an exciting side project that explores the humour of our mistaken identity. Using our shared everyday experiences and lives as inspiration we look at subverting notions of race, identity and the gaze. SBF is fun and being able to collaborate with someone who thinks up the same crazy things I do is awesome.

What are you doing in Sydney?

I am in Sydney for an unpaid 6-month curatorial residency at Gaffa Gallery and also just generally navigating this new city and trying to clock it (whatever that means). For the residency I am curating a show once a month, it has been a really great opportunity to basically run my own space and work with a range of super talented artists. Also I am trying to set up the 500words Sydney chapter!

What fuels your curatorial motivations? 

While studying I was surrounded by and met lots of people that had such varying practices, I fell in love with their work and it was then that I realised that what motivates me about curating is the collaborative element. I am able to create exhibitions surrounding ideas and concepts that I have had but that my own work doesn’t fit so in my lame ass way of talking ‘I get the chance to work with people who do what I don’t’ and that is true. That is what motivates me, finding emerging and talented people to work with and create exhibitions that are not only interesting and thoughtful but also entertaining. Also my own interests in the everyday fuel my motivations and I often find myself drawn to ideas and practices that examine this concept. I am also big on supporting emerging artists and curators and this October am launching with Ioana Gordon-Smith Transit Projects which will be a pop up project space. We are starting with a website and exhibition during Art Week and then we will see where it goes!

How do you balance artistic, writing and curatorial practices?

I really don’t know if I do balance them all or I am just an insane person who juggles a million things at once? I thrive off being busy so I do often have a lot of things on the go. Thankfully a lot of it is already forward planned so when I have shows for my own work I cool it on other projects and vice versa.

Where will you be in 5 years?

In 5 years I will be living it up in New York, drinking gin and tonics and I will own about 5 dogs. All beagles. For reals though the dream is that I will be doing what I do now (still showing my work and writing) but working fulltime as a curator perhaps somewhere like ACP in Sydney or CCP in Melbourne or Foam in Amsterdam or….somewhere heh.

Any advice for young curators/artists/writers?

I guess the best advice that I can offer is know what you want and be willing to work your ass off to get there. It takes a lot of hard work and money (that you never seem to have haha) to achieve these things but if you have the passion for it then go for it and it will pay off in the end. Also make sure to take time out and act the fool sometimes and drink a little too many gins or sing Hall & Oates at Karaoke like you’re Mariah Carey. Enjoy it all! The hard stuff and the good stuff….sorry to end on such a cheeseball note 😉

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