Interview with Performance Artist
I understand you completed an MA in Performance at Goldsmiths University of London in 2016 and started working as a theatre and performance maker ever since. Your works have been presented in venues such as Belgrade Theatre in Conventry, Camden People’s Theatre, Chisenhale Dance Space, Greenside at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Toynbee studios in London and Nunnery Gallery. However, as you told me, you are also interested in the education sector as you teach Hebrew, your native language, and acting to adults and children. You also run an acting workshop inspired by Jewish culture. Would you say that the arts education sector and the commercial art world are opposing forces in a way? Did you find in teaching a space for critical thinking and self-reflexivity?
I moved to London at the end of my 20’s after years of working as an actor so in a way I was aware of the differences between the real world and any Arts Educational hub. Hence, when I attended my MA here my approach was that there is always something to learn from anyone and in any kind of framework and that there are no ‘Gurus’ or ‘Oracles’.
So in a way, what I cherished the most in my MA studies was the fact that I had my own space for critical thinking and to try my own ideas.
I am aware that that’s not really what you are asking…But in a way it is, because my choice to teach or my main approach when teaching is to encourage independent thinking as much as possible and creating a collaborative atmosphere despite hierarchy.
Moreover, being a performer/ maker means that one is predisposed to be self-indulgent and hypersensitive at times. It’s great if one makes hens meat, but if that is not the case, then teaching grants one with stability.
Income is relatively secure and guiding others gives, at least for me, perspective, as I am able to have an overall view on things and observe myself and the profession in a different kind of light.
I interviewed a PhD student at the Courtauld Institute of Art who told me: “Academia is kept very separate. There is the idea of a conflict of interest when academics engage with the commercial art world […] the financial aspects of the art world are never taught or addressed in art schools.” What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
I agree that maybe there’s more room to think about how one can sell and market their work better as we do live in the age of branding. However, by attending university in London I understood that money is the main incentive for these institutions as it is so expensive! So in a way the commercial art world and academics in London are congruent.
What was your first job right after the university? What was that transition like for you? Was it daunting? Was it exciting? Did you feel prepared for the ‘real world’?
I feel like the shock of coming out to the real world was something I experienced years ago when finishing acting school. In my experience, years of freelancing and taking part in a myriad of projects require a certain skill. In a nutshell, it is about finding the balance between staying alert and faithful as well as managing your own expectations.
What obstacles do you think young emerging artists face currently?
The branding and marketing are far more important than the product. The financial system obliges us to work harder, juggling a few jobs and multiple roles.
In our research, we found that students are skeptical of the commercial aspects of art. What is your response to that? Are they wrong to be skeptical, or should they be more skeptical? Are art institutions (or the nature of academia) in the UK fostering such a mentality? Why or why not?
I believe it’s good to be skeptical and follow the beat of your own drum, staying attuned to your own artistic voice. Yet, money is a factor in anything we do so there is room to think about what the market or people ask us to deliver, without constantly aiming at the lowest common dominator.
We are conducting these interviews with industry professionals to gain some research and information that may be helpful for Foundation and Undergraduate students at art school, who may be concerned about their transition out of academia. If you could go back in time to when you were an art student finishing your degree, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you have for current students?
The best advice I can give them is to keep their minds open while looking for their place/niche and never forget to have as much fun as possible in the meantime!