Interview: Shaun Wilson
Luca Curci talks with Shaun Wilson during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2019 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Shaun Wilson PhD, FRSA is an Australian artist, film maker, writer, and educator who for the past 25 years has made socio-political work about memory and places. He has exhibited and screened in over 200 venues including the 72nd Cannes Film Festival, 76th Venice International Film Festival, 11th Venice International Art Fair, 41st Art Cologne, 1st Athens Biennial, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Museum of Contemporary Art Fenosa Union, Institute of Modern Art Brisbane, Seattle Centre on Contemporary Art, Moscow Museum of Fine Arts, Centre for Contemporary Culture Barcelona, and filmed collaborative work screened at the TATE Modern, Dundee Arts Centre Scotland, FACT Liverpool, and the Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction from RMIT University (1995), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (hons) with distinction from Monash University (1996), and a PhD from the University of Tasmania (2005) where he was awarded a prestigious Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship. His projects and research have received funding from the National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA), Arts Victoria, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victorian State Government, RMIT University, University of Tasmania, the ERGAS Collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and private philanthropic funding. He has filmed and directed the slow cinema pentalogy “The 51 Paintings Suite” and has produced and directed two narrative-based feature films “The Last Man in Vegas” and “Black Garden”. He is currently a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts ANZ, a film distributor with Bakers Road Entertainment and a Senior Lecturer in Digital Media in the School of Design, RMIT University.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Shaun Wilson – For me art is a window to universal truth and a platform to discuss key political issues in ways which cannot be digressed in any other medium.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
SW – I’m primarily focused on reflecting issues of climate change in my work but the recent fires in Australia have edged me back into my darker works inspired by Nietzsche and Dante’s “Inferno” such as my recent feature film “Black Garden”. I’m also in preproduction of a new digital TV series about nuclear war, sanction from a slow cinema base and a miniatures series about climate change refugees.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
SW – I don’t feel I have inspiration in art, or inspiration in anything these days. I’m more focused on propagating conceptual and philosophical thematics that play out through my subject which is important to understand is a central condition to my metamodernist trope. The intellectualisation of the image for me is far more important in my art than to have an emotional frame or emotive context – that’s something I just don’t care for but moreso, in my personal life as in my work life – is there a difference? – I place no value in emotional strengths as it seems not only a waste of my time, which these days is compromised, but in essence, a primal defect which I’d rather not engage with at all and indeed the people who embrace it. That said, I place emotion and inspiration in the same kinds of infliction which to me is a very Modernist way to think art – that is to say, Modernism to me is the most dreadful blight on art history and so too is the structural effacements of inspiration.
LC – What is your creative process like?
SW – I don’t have one except to say, make as much art as possible.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
SW – I don’t tend to think of anything outside my artwork in terms of a role or society as I’d be presumptuous to think my voice has a function or role to play at all but I just make work and let everyone else fight it out to find reason as to where it fits (or not) within the art and film worlds.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition?
SW – “Indigo Rising Proto” is as much about representing characters in German medieval paintings and then reposing these characters into new contemporary forms as it is a mirror to the socio-political abjectness of the world I live in and reflecting this with a sense of critical gaze.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
SW – I think any exhibition of contemporary art in these times is very important because art is drifting more and more into a functionless creative form, especially in the era of Trump, apps and misinformation.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
SW – I’ve been showing with ItsLiquid for some time and intend to continue to do so well into the future. I hear a lot of rubbish coming from artists these days about how they shouldn’t have to pay a fee for an exhibition but in the same breath they talk about their Netflix subscription, the latte they just paid for and their mobile phone that is billed in monthly instalments. Go figure…
LC – What are your suggestions about our services?
SW – You need more of my art.
LC – Is there something more we can provide to artists?
SW – Tickets to Shaun Wilson’s movies.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SW – Yes, I always do.