I’m sitting in running shorts (purely for comfort, there was no run), t-shirt, no bra, fruit toast and G&T for dinner, struggling with how to present this interview. It seems fitting to me because the woman I email-interviewed is Anastasia Klose, a Melbourne artist, whose work has been branded with the simplistic but catchy label “The Aesthetic of the Pathetic”. But to me her DIY approach and subject matter are familiar and funny and a little melancholy—like fruit toast and ginfor dinner.
When I was at uni, Anastasia was a bit of a legend. Much of her university work was discussed in class with enthusiasm. Perhaps part of the charm of Anastasia’s work is its ordinariness. When we laugh and grimace and cheer for her it’s for the struggling part of ourselves that we recognise in her performance.
Being nervous to ask Anastasia Klose for an e-mail-interview, I decide my best shot was to get Anastasia at her NGV Melbourne Now merch stand: One Stop Knock-Off Shop (where I assumed she would be unable to escape). I got myself a Quiet Desperation mug (to drink from during tough phone conversations with my grandma) and a t-shirt (Marina Abramović- 88 FYI). Then, my purchases in a bag, I realised now was the time to casually ask about an email interview. Below is the result of my minor act of heroism:
GGG: In your words describe what you do.
Anastasia Klose: Make conceptually driven art based on my feelings and observations about the world.
Who (or what) do you go to for guidance and mentorship and how did you find this person (or source)?
I speak to my close friends, gallerist Jan Minchin (who runs Tolarno Galleries), and mother Elizabeth Presa and father Simon Klose for advice. I just speak to whoever is around that I am close too, actually.
What are your top five influences on your work?
Money (ie. what I can afford), what I feel like doing (I get restless and like to change mediums a lot), who I can get to help me for free (usually can’t afford to pay anyone) and the sort of time I get away with taking off work to make it / perform it. Is that five?
Close enough. Could you name five of the most important tools you use to make your work?
Imagination, insomnia, desperation, hunger, ambition.
Do you have a book, or source, or system you have found guidance from for your career (or life)?
There are no rules. Make money and save money. Push ideas harder. Forget what you are “supposed” to do as an adult. Accept life for the random crap and goodness that it is. Look after yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Try your hardest. What a bunch of cliches!!! But there’s truth in all this.
Could you walk me through a typical day as you, what do you do?
Depends on whether I am employed or not. At the moment, I run the Knock-Off store at the NGV, so I get up at 8.30, have a shower and then get the bus to the NGV and start my day in retail running the store. During my day, I will respond to emails (such as these) and plan my next works.
Looking back, are there clear choices you feel you had to make in order to get where you are now?
I feel I have little control over my career, in a sense. So I try to make the best work I can, and take every opportunity in full.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing?
Don’t, unless you REALLY REALLY REALLY LOVE making art. Ask yourself this question, and honestly answer it. If you actually prefer having a real job and making money, and spending your weekends shopping and seeing family and having kids—do that instead. If you really want to be an artist and you really do LOVE making art, be prepared for a life of REJECTION (from curators) and POVERTY. Perhaps marry a rich person / get a well-paid day job? You have to find a way to survive without losing your mind. It’s not so glamorous being broke in middle age. And it’s particularly shit being an AUSTRALIAN ARTIST as we don’t get many breaks overseas. And it’s double-y worse if you are FEMALE.
Have you had to make sacrifices, what were they (if any)?
Perhaps I have made sacrifices, but it doesn’t feel like it. I am in love with what I do. My life without art would probably be meaningless, and I wouldn’t know who I really am, or what I am really capable of.
Would you have done anything differently? Why?
Maybe not moved to Bulleen. But it’s cheap.
Bonus question: What are you reading/ watching/ listening to at the moment?
I just finished reading Crazy Rich Asians, and I am also reading Art and Fashion in the 21st Century. I also just finished reading a monograph on Dash Snow, I love you stupid.
Words and image Klara Kelvy