Kara Chin Interview

by Woon Fellow – 

1) Can you tell us a bit about your current practice?

1) I feel like my current practice is in a bit of a weird place right now. When I was at Slade we had a phrase – ‘the post crit slump’ – referring to the period of time (usually a week or so) after your crit/seminar, when it becomes very difficult to make work. After a high paced scramble to cobble together and show a finished piece of work, the aftermath always feels very sluggish in comparison, and it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. The degree show was like a massive crit (the final boss if you will) and so I think maybe I’m currently in a massive post crit slump. I spent most of my degree making work about the same topic, so its a little jarring to suddenly start afresh; I feel like I spent 4 years gobbling up all this information and vomited it out as the ultimate Artwork and now I’ve got no information left and I need to slowly refill before I have any proper idea of what I’m doing.  

So basically, I’m re-calculating what my practice is about because I’m not 100% sure. I can tell you that I’ve been reading a book about how to lucid dream, and looking at some other books on furniture design, the architecture of carparks and Turkish miniatures. I’m currently trying to build a sort of Metronome because I saw the William Kentridge show in Manchester which is amazing, and there was one installation with this insane machine at the center, and I had one of those intense moments when you really get into a show and I was thinking waahhh its like the beating heart of the exhibition this is fucking great I want to build an installation with some kind of constant rhythmic machine in it wahhhh. I’ve got no other reason why yet, and I’m loath to be a copycat so I hope it evolves into something better, we’ll have to see how it turns out. Other than that, I’ve been reworking two tables I bought at a second-hand furniture store. I want to make one table that has back pain so it can’t carry anything and then another table that carries things in its hands rather than on its tabletop. (I’ll attach some pics for reference)

So my work is pretty much all over the place atm and there is no solid concept.

But I’ve decided to placate myself by thinking about it as like a conversation with lots of tangents – which is maybe more fun than a monologue that sticks to the point???? I don’t know I think that might be bullshit

If anyone has any ideas, please come and visit me


2)What/who have been your main influences?

2) I feel like this is a really difficult question to answer because you sort of assimilate influences from all over the place, and I’m thinking of lots of different ones, but I feel like if I say one rather than another it means that one is really important when actually its just one that happened to be at the surface of my thoughts. I’ll list the main texts that spawned my degree show, as they tend to be an underlying theme in my work:

‘Being No one’ – Thomas Metzinger

‘Being There: The Subjective experience of Presence’ – Carrie Heeter

‘Are we living in a computer Simulation’ – Nick Bostrum

I guess a lot of my work also draws from certain psychological studies I’ve found interesting, and I’ve tried to sneak them into my installations.

Ukiyo-e prints provide a lot of my source material when I’m making animations (Utagawa Kuniyoshi is my personal fav). Japanese animation and manga have also got to be a big inspiration. I recommend anyone who hasn’t to visit the Japanese animated film archive (http://animation.filmarchives.jp/index.html) There’s 100 years worth of Japanese animation on there and it’s all free to view.

As a present moment snapshot, here are the 10 most recent artists I’ve bookmarked in my ‘inspo’ folder:

Studio Odissiana (Allessandra Covini)

Invernomuto (Simone Bertuzzi and Simone Trabucchi)

Suki Seokyeong Kang

Euripides Laskaridis

Buckminster Fuller

Paul Johnson

Ed Atkins

Lauren Godfrey

Mathew Barney

Philip Seibel 

3)How are you finding the change in pace from the Slade in London to the Woon Fellowship in Newcastle?

3) Well, my pace of making work is certainly slower right now, but that’s partially due to the prementioned slump and partially due to being in a new place and getting to grips with the facilities available to me and figuring out where to get materials etc. I don’t think this is a bad thing though, it’s been really nice dedicating my time to exploring the city. Although Newcastle is obviously much smaller than London, I think I’ve actually been able to see more while I’ve been here. When I’m working on a project I get very obsessive and I find it difficult to do anything other than be in the studio working on it, or bringing bits home and puzzling over how to make something, so I was actually really crap at going to shows when I was in London. The main way I used to see shows was dedicating an entire day to go to all the things I’d been meaning to see and this was once a month at best (me and some friends used to do cycle tours to see lots of exhibitions in a day), whereas I’ve been much better at just popping out on a lunch break to see stuff here – its a lot easier to this in Newcastle as things are so close by. 

4)How do you think the fellowship has developed your practice?

4) Okay well we’re in the early stages so I’m afraid I don’t have much of an answer for this yet! What I’m really hoping to get out of this year is expanding my practice to be more inclusive in some way. I think my practice is quite selfish, all the work I’ve made so far has very much been for my own pleasure of discovery, and I feel that since I’ve been given such a such an amazing opportunity and support this year, it would be really nice if I could share this somehow. I’d really like to do some work that gives something back – maybe by doing workshops with the students at Northumbria or using the space I’ve been given to facilitate other emerging artists to realise projects? Something – I’m still figuring it out how this will manifest. Sorry this is so vague. 

Practically, I’m hoping that my fabrication skills will flourish this year, as you have some really amazing technical support and workshop facilities here.

5)Do you have any exciting work coming up in the near future?

5) I’m obviously really looking forward to constructing a show for the end of the fellowship and hope I will be able to realize some more ambitious creations, but as that’s quite far down the pipeline, I have no idea what this will be yet. In the near future, I’m excited to be doing some more work with IMT Gallery, I’ll be showing some ceramic pieces with them at the London Art Fair 2019 in Jan, which I need to make next week. I’ve got a round table that will house the works and I’ve been told that there is a pesky column that intrudes into the booth. I’ve become quite obsessed with this poor, hated column and my plan is to turn the round table into a black-hole through which a civilization of ceramic creatures, who worship the column, have appeared – you know that saying ‘one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure’ (something along those lines??) – well all my ceramics will absolutely ADORE that column, so it won’t feel so bad about being an obstruction. 

6)Do you have any advice for emerging artists?

6) I kind of feel like I don’t have the right/knowledge to offer much good advice, as I am an emerging artist myself and at the very early stages of it at that. Also, I know so many other emerging artists who are much more proactive than I am, and probably have much better opinions to proffer. I’m racking my brain and it keeps spitting out cheesy shit like ‘be yourself!’ and ‘keep at it!’, which is true, but doesn’t feel genuine or constructive. Something I’ve really loved since being in Newcastle is the amount of pop-up/makeshift galleries and exhibitions people have created. I love seeing exhibitions ingeniously tailored into living rooms and student flats, I think its really exciting to see an artwork that has to sort of solve an awkward space rather than just exist in a white cube (if that makes sense?) So yeah keep doing that!

Things that have been useful for me since graduating:

– reply to all your emails fast so they don’t build up and stress you out. (I am bad at this, and it stresses me out)

– get a separate bank card and account dedicated to art stuff – it makes it easier to figure out the material cost of an artwork later (which you will need if you show work with a gallery and have to figure out pricing) + doing your tax return if you register as a self-employed artist after Uni.

– probably get an Instagram account if you don’t have one and post your work on there, even if you feel like a dick doing it. I’ve had opportunities offered to me and made contacts through Instagram, I even put it on my business card haha.  You don’t have to post like crazy but it’s a good idea to just be there –  for better or worse, people are more likely to look at your work on your Instagram account than on your website 🙁 self-promotion feels really gross, but girls (and boys and everyone) gotta do watta girls gotta do. 

Oh and apply for everything

[ this is a really good site that lists loads of upcoming opportunities for artists and their deadlines: https://www.isendyouthis.com/opportunities.aspx ]. 

I was talking about this with Kate Liston yesterday; seriously, just apply for stuff even if you don’t think you have enough work and you’re not going to get it. I almost missed the deadline for the Woon Prize and I didn’t think in a million years that I would win, and hey-ho here I am ?

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