Q&A with Susan Gibb - Arts Curator & Writer
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Posted by: Amalia Ridwan
Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Arts Curator & Writer
Susan Gibb is an emerging Australian arts curator and writer. In 2014, Susan was awarded a grant from the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund to undertake a three-month International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) residency in New York.
Who are you as an artist?
I am an arts curator and writer. Since completing the residency at ISCP I have commenced working as a curator at the performance-focused institution If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I also ran the independent curatorial initiative Society and have held curatorial positions at Carriageworks, Campbelltown Arts Centre and Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest, all in Sydney, Australia. I also write regularly for art publications including ArtAsiaPacific.
What prompted you to come to the US?
I was invited to participate in a three-month structured residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York after being selected by Australian colleagues for a Dr David & Margery Edwards Charitable Trust sponsored place in this residency program.
What did your course/project involve?
The three-month residency at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York involved me being provided with a private and furnished studio to work in, and participating in core activities of the ISCP residency program. These were visiting critics, field trips and salons. Alongside these core activities I also planned my own program of professional development activities including meetings with artists and institutions in New York, visiting archives, attending performances and exhibitions, going on small research trips to Canada, Mexico City, and Marfa, and using my studio for curatorial research and experimentation with my writing practice.
What were the highlights of your experience?
The highlight of my experience was being able to attend numerous performance festivals, events and talks that were on in New York during my residency at ISCP. The opportunity to engage with the breadth and caliber of these programs was extremely beneficial to the current development of my curatorial practice that is focused on performance. The other highlight of my experience was the opportunity to be connected to a diverse group of international peers through the ISCP program, and to New York colleagues and institutions through the residency's core activities. Alongside this, the experience of daily life in New York was memorable.
Where did you find inspiration?
Across my residency I found inspiration in the rich history of the New York and its art scene, from attending weekly readings at the Poetry Project at St Marks; to visits to the collection of art at The Met and MoMA; tours of The Judd Foundation in both Spring Street, New York and Marfa Texas; exploring the archives of La Mama Experimental Theatre and the Living Theatre; and having the opportunity to speak to and hear about the works of my fellow ISCP participants and colleagues and institutions in New York. Alongside this, having the dedicated time to reflect on my own practice has enabled me to find new inspiration in my own practice.
What will you take away from this experience?
From this experience I will take away a new body of curatorial research that I will continue to develop; new ideas and methodologies for my writing practice; a network of colleagues and institutions both in New York and internationally (made through the ISCP program) who I hope to continue to converse with and potentially work with in the future; and a greater sense of confidence in placing my practice within an international context.
What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
I was able to commence numerous writing projects while at ISCP, with my favorite piece of work being a text that I am currently finishing that combines art and travel writing, and marks a new development and point of experimentation in my writing. The text will be published in the inaugural edition of an Australian artist run publication KNULP later this year.
What are you currently working on?
I have just commenced working as a curator at the performance-focused institution If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Within this role I am currently working on the curation of the next two year Edition of artist and performance-in-residence commissions. I am also currently developing numerous curatorial projects, undertaking writing commissions for Broadsheet (Australia) and the artist Sriwhana Spong, and am teaching a course of 'Curating Performance at the School of New Dance Development (SNDO), Amsterdam.
What is your vision for the future?
I hope to further develop my curatorial and writing practice within an Australian and international context by continuing to work with contemporary artists to develop and present new work commissions, curating further exhibitions both in collaboration with institutions and independently, writing for art periodicals, and one day self-publishing a small book of writing.
What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
New York has such a vibrant art history and contemporary art scene. There is so much to see and do, it is hard to know where to start and end. Coming to the U.S. as part of the ISCP program however allowed me to really hit the ground running, to meet relevant people to my professional development, and feel supported in both developing my practice and engaging with all that the city has to offer.
[Interview: May 2015]