Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Conversation: Kristin McIver

Kristin McIver is an Australian artist based in Brooklyn NY, whose practice includes sculpture, painting and installation. Utilising materials such as neon and acrylic, Kristin's works explore the themes of desire and aspiration prevalent in our hyper-consumer culture. Through her work, the artist aims to break down the illusions of commodity aesthetics. Kristin is represented by Royale Projects (USA), James Makin Gallery (Victoria, Australia) and Liverpool Street Gallery (Sydney, Australia). Her work is held in private collections in Victoria, New South Wales, Perth, Singapore and the UK.

Thought Piece (See something you like?) (2013)
neon, steel, concrete, motion sensors, vinyl, neurons, electrical impulses
(c) Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery. 

Tell us about yourself, where are you from?
I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. I originally studied and worked in graphic design, which probably explains my interest in typography, language and advertising's seductive devices. I recently moved to New York, where I am constantly inspired by the city, its people and its incredibly creative culture.

How would you describe your work? What materials do you use?
I primarily use language as a material. This could take the form of neon, vinyl, paint, digital prints and more. I try not to limit myself to any particular medium, instead allowing the concept to dictate what form the artwork will take. Recently I incorporate objects surrounding the artwork as media within the work. For example, "View Piece" lists its materials as Neon, steel, acrylic and ocean views. Or Sitting Piece, which lists its materials as Neon, chair, viewer.

What’s your favourite word? What does it mean and why do you like it?
My favourite word is LOVE. It refers to the most intimate of human emotions, a connection between two people. Recently however, its emotional currency has become somewhat dissipated, referring to objects, images and material possessions. "I Love those shoes", "I Love the way he does that". And more recently on social media comments of approval, simply "Love!".

 Installation view of Thought Piece (2013) and False Hope (2010),
Town Hall Gallery (June 2014)
(c) Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery.

If you could collaborate with any other artist, who would it be and why? 
John Baldessari. I love the humour he demonstrates in his work, and how he plays with accepted notions of representation.

What inspires you?
The language and imagery of advertising inspires me, as its creators are incessantly searching for new devices to tap into personal emotions and induce desire in consumers. Through their manufacturing of ideals, advertisers influence the culture around them by proposing how consumers could/should achieve the "perfect life". This concept is very utopian.

When you’re creating art, do you listen to music or work in silence? If so, what is the soundtrack to your creativity?
I often listen to music. Hip hop, roots reggae, jazz, soul or electronic music.

What do you think people will take away from seeing your work?
I hope they will think about how they engage with the world, and also how they represent themselves to the world - in real life and online. Through the works I aim to encourage in the viewer a perception of the process of seduction. The viewer may initially be attracted to the neon lights or materials, but on closer inspection perhaps they will become aware of the idealistic paradoxes produced by the word play and materials

Where can people find out more about your work?
My website is

What’s next for you, any big projects coming up?
I am doing a residency as part of the Vancouver Biennale in September, where I have been invited to create an artwork for a public space in response to the city. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring artist?
Believe in yourself.

Detail from Thought Piece (See something you like?) (2013
neon, steel, concrete, motion sensors, vinyl, neurons, electrical impulses
(c) Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery. 

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