Interview: Brigid Hansen

Interviewed by Miranda Hine Brigid Hansen / Instagram Post / 2017

Brigid Hansen is a Melbourne-based emerging freelance art writer and curator currently completing her Master of Arts (Arts Management). She interns at Blindside Gallery, works at The Melba Spiegeltent and has interests including Kylie Minogue, kebabs, big hair and art.

From March 13 to March 19 Brigid showed us her practice and process by taking part in our Instagram takeover series on @inresidence_ari

MH: How are you finding the Melbourne arts scene compared with Brisbane?

BH: There’s definitely a lot more on offer on any given night of the week, which creates this bizarre vibe of obligation to engage with everything which, of course, you can’t. There’s also a lot more institutional support for ARIs and council support for studio spaces – initiatives like Abbotsford Convent’s Studio Start-Up program and the Nicholas Building’s commitment to rent-controlled studios. In summary, there’s a general recognition and real commitment of and to the benefits of the arts to the wider community.

MH: Why the writing and curating side of art?

BH: It’s something I kind of fell into – I’ve always written and I guess going to a lot of shows I started to draw parallels between particular artists and their work, which just sort of ends up as a manic collection of scrawls in my notebook which I’ll eventually revisit. It’s incredibly rewarding when you can provide an insight into the broader themes of an artist’s work through presenting it in conjunction with other work, and introduce artists who explore similar themes in their practices.

MH: A charming man once said to me, ‘all the women in the arts seem to end up in “admin”’ after I told him I’d become more interested in arts writing than making work. Can you give him the mouthing off right now that I was too angry to give him at the time?

BH: Why is there this perception that arts administration is a lazy way to engage with the arts without actually making work or being creative yourself? I write every day, I play and write music, I sing. Administration shouldn’t be undermined and I don’t know a single person working in arts administration who doesn’t have a creative practice themselves. It’s such a necessary and often overlooked aspect of presenting and promoting an exhibition.

MH: Describe your ideal date studio visit.

BH: I arrive, we sit down on some really comfy old couch and chat about their work for a bit, they recommend some texts they’re into and we crack open some cheap beers and waltz down the road to the nearest kebab shop.

MH: A lot of artists say they have a passion driving them to do what they do. Is it similar for you? What motivates you to keep writing and curating?

BH: I feel like I’m on speed most of the time when I’m writing or working on things. It’s a pretty insane feeling, so I guess keeping on going is a way to maintain that feeling. Seeing new work is a huge motivator and so is finding interesting and highly personal ways to describe my response to that work. Being in this industry also means you’re constantly meeting new and interesting people (and potential future mates) which is definitely a motivating factor.

MH: Everyone approaches arts writing differently. At In Residence we’re all about turning writing into an alternative access point for art. What’s the core philosophy behind your writing?

BH: Writing that creates visceral images for the reader. If there’s a humorous aspect to the work, I’ll play on that too. I enjoy breaking a text into sections and meshing descriptive free-prose with more discursive, analytical language. Finding the balance between accessibility and academic styles is something I always try to do in my work.

MH: Can we steal some networking tips pretty please?

BH: Go to a lot of shows. Actually say Hi to people if you like their work. It’s easy to get wrapped up in books and forget that people are actually making new work every day. Even if you’re tired, make a coffee and drag yourself to that opening you’ve been hyped about all week, cause it’ll be worth it. Don’t go too hard on the free wine if you’re going to openings a few days in a row, cause you’ll get burnout and wonder why you’re sad (alcohol is a depressant, remember, Brigid). If you’re applying for internships, decide what you specifically want to get out of it before you start – this is so important and will limit the amount that you’re used as free labor. Work on an independent project outside of University. If you get on with your lecturers, ask them about how they started in the arts. Seek mentor advice from people you admire, gain confidence in your abilities, engage in criticism and critical thinking with your peers and know your worth.

See more of Brigid Hansen's writing on her blog and follow her Instagram @dj_slayingmantis.

Keep up with our Instagram Takeovers, news, events and new posts via @inresidence_ari.