Curator, writer, theorist, cafe whore and photo maker
"Sorry, I'm running late and my place is a mess," said Cush when we met in front of her loft in Bushwick. She was late, but her place was a beautiful mess. We made some tea and chatted about the allure of collecting, maintaining and nurturing domestic environment, but at the same time leaving it all behind and getting on a journey to new places.
The board was there when I started living here. Everything in my room that’s furniture came with the house. I started out just with a few postcards. I had the Gilbert and George postcard, which was something that Julian sent me and I had the photograph of Julian and I, which I took in Australia. And then I sort of collected other things, like the first show I went to New York, was the show with the two clock faces which is by my friend Sara Morawetz. I really like this project she was living on Mars time for a long time. And the other ones are I just bought. Couples of them have been written on and waiting to be sent, like the Georgia O’Keefe. I like Georgia being there, I am sort of attached to the postcard now. The one on the left is by Francis Seelos, where he has collected all images of the images of a particular saint – he has collected cheap ones, antique ones expensive ones.
And then I added the strange crown thing. I was as not going to participate in Halloween, but then I thought I should. I got ambitious I was going to make a paper dress for Halloween with hearts and lungs and drawings on it. This was my last minute thing. I was walking by this palace and they had tortured willow. I love tortured willow. When I was a child I used to cry and weep, because my stepfather would poison willow trees, because they were pest. HE would always talk about bad they were. I was like this Pre-Raphaelite maiden child, I was obsessed with willows.
I think Ikea is very useful for a lot of things, but I hate the way that the clothing storage is. I think a clothing storage is the most poorly thought things in our society, I generally think it’s very plastic and ugly. The first morning I was here I just went wandering and I found a ware-house store and I bought this big piece of dahl, a bundle of rope and S-bent hooks. I just hanged them of the thing and connected the rope to the dahl and hang all my clothes on it. It took me quite a while to figure out what to do with clothes that do not hand, so I went and end up buying baskets. The idea is that I roll not fold my clothes. I did that when I was travelling, someone showed me how to roll my clothes and I never went back .
Black is the only colour. When I was a teenager I only wore red. I had geisha lipstick, red eye shadow, and red hair. Then something happened when I was about 17, and I got rid of all my red clothes. I stitched two giant quilts out of them. I decided it was swallowing me as a person. I went into black, I do not remember making a conscious decision about it and people started identify it with me, but I never wanted to be Goth, it is just practical. In the end it’s about buying anything that is not black or grey is risky. I wake up in the morning, and everything that I own goes with everything else. I am more interested in texture than colour, and I feel you can do really beautiful things with texture and layering.
Travelling doctor bag
I bought that bag in Prague, when I was 21. I had my eye on it for weeks. I keep my stockings and bras and underwear in there, but then I also travel with it, so I dump all that stuff on the floor everytime I leave.
Some of the pictures I recently decided to print were photographs of my bookcase in Sydney. The flowers in the photograph are kind of emotional. They were left when Bill more than year ago and his wife and daughter went away. My job was to go by the house everyday and check the flowers were not piling up, so those were some flowers I took from the front door.
The Middle one is from From Performa 2015, Reiner Ganahl, ‘Selling My Library’
The bottom picture is ‘My office.’ Those are books that I bought for my show ‘See you at the Barricades’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is my dissident library.
‘Books is Power’
I have an attraction to badges. The first week I was here I discovered ‘Printed Matter’ and I went insane. I went insane. I also had no battery on my phone and the guy in the shop very kindly plugged my phone in, which I think was an excuse to wander around the shop and spent heaps of money as a mark of my gratitude. I bought bunch postcards and this bag. It’s basically a library book bag. So many people come to me and say ‘you know that your bag is grammatically incorrect?’ ‘yes…I get that..thank’s for pointing that out though.’’
I have recently learnt knitting and I am not very good at it. I taught myself of a Youtube clip. I learnt to knit when I was a child, I remember knitting a rainbow quilt. I had to knit a quilt for my bow and arrow. My best friend’s brother helped me to do this, and I almost killed my sister by an accident. So my stepfather broke the bow in a half. That’s another story. Then I forgot how to do it. When I just moved out of my home, I lived with two guys and they taught me to knit again, but I could not make shapes. I glued it into my sketch books. Then I just dropped it. At that time I did not know whether I wanted to major in textiles or printmaking. I went for printmaking, but I have always been a sucker for textiles. For a very long time I wanted to make a blanket out of grey squares. Then I was here and a friend of mine in my class told me she would teach me to knit and then I got impatient so taught myself out of Youtube clip. It is a very relaxing thing to do.
Cosmic Pessimism and ABC Of Impossibility
I feel like these books are an inspiration to me. They are from my teachers. I went to the book launch. It was a every expensive night buying these two books, but I also feel it is rude not to buy the book. The books are by Eugene Thacker and Simon Critchley. Simon always seems to be in pale colours and Eugene in dark, and they are very different stylistically. I am just auditing the class and it has been a luxury to go and listen to these two amazing lecturers. I am really into the monastic devotional tradition and I am considering redirecting my thesis somehow into that. That is the kind of book I want to make. They are just fragments and they are meditative and interesting wide-ranging, quiet personal. They are just beautiful objects. It is like a model for what I would like to do. I read Simon. I dipped into Eugene.
Realism and Materialism
I love the graphic design. It is a very beautiful object. I am here partly because I don’t want to be an intellectual time capsule, where I only read things that I read at uni. I think that generations of curators get stuck in their concerns of their time. So one of the principles for coming here was not to being that person. Yeah, I am buying a lot of books and going broke.
A source of constant guilt. I feel bad about my plants. I feel I am a very split personality. I want to look after things, be quite domestic and nurture a creative home environment. As a child my domestic life was chaotic. I was obsessed with interior design; I used to keep Vogue Living magazines secretly hidden under my bed, imagining my fantasy house. But at the same time I keep pushing myself to leave. I get the idyllic thing sorted out, I have my art deco apartment in Sydney, me and my partner both work at the arts and la la la .. and I have to break that and go somewhere else. Plants are symbolic about my anxiety about starting. Nurturing something, and keeping it alive, but then also abandoning it. I have push and pull. And these plants I am failing to keep alive.
My tea collection is super important to me, even though on day to day basis I live on coffee. It started with a woman who came to visit my mom who brought her own tea. I was about 14. She came in for a visit and was one of those women who had her own business but wanted to be seen as a bit of hippie, she came for a tarot card reading, but she brought her own tea. She brought a lady grey tea. So then I picked up lady grey tea, and I got obsessed with a fruity version of earl grey. Maybe the next influence was reading a lot of George Orwell, and I slowly accumulated this interest in tea. There is nobody in my family that drinks tea. By the time I got to Canberra I discovered the tea centre. Then I had my 19th birthday party, and I remember it was a tea party. I had about 12 different kinds of tea in tea-pots. Then I went to China in 2012 and was visiting lots of studios and I became obsessed with the Gong Cha Chinese method. The Chinese are amazing at tea, and it’s such a social thing. The macha-latte bullshit that happens here…I just think it’s revolting. It is a funny little ritual.
They are not really my records, I re-appropriated them. I fixed the record player and now I play lots of records.
My jacket that got me here. I was with Jade, who also left the Gallery to move to London, and I was fucking panicking about to a jacket to wear to the Monash scholarship, because I had a quite radical haircut at the time. David Jones don’t stock size 0 Alexander Wang in Sydney. My friend was measuring my shoulders and then I ordered it online. It was a symbolic thing. You have to have a blazer. Blazer you can throw over anything and feel like you are ready, it is a transformative garment.
The key is the key to my Sydney apartment.
Silver Ring: This is an artist made ring. There is a tiny scratched in signature. It was a first ring I didn’t loose. I lost my mother’s wedding ring. She lost all of her 3 wedding rings. It is a history of losing things.
'Holy Shit' Ring: November of last year I bought ‘Holy Shit’ ring. I was going to get my scholarship and I was getting it from the Governor General, who is a deeply conservative military person. I was dressed more conservatively than I would feel comfortable dressed normally. I did not feel like myself. I wanted to commemorate winning this prize, so I bought myself this ring. When I got my scholarship and I told my dad I got it he said” holy fucking snapping duck shit.”
Sarah and Sebastian Ring: This tiny ring was given to me when I left the Gallery. It seems a bit dwarfed by my other rings.
Wide Copper Ring: It says M on the inside and it was super cheap.
Watch: My watch I bought from Robert Herbert. He is so full of mystery. He restores antique mechanical watches. It is some kind of a projection thing that started with reading ‘This is a man’ by Primo Levi and he talks about when they went to Auschwitz they took away everybody’s watches, how keeping time is a fundamentally human thing and losing the ability to keep the time is the first step in dehumanisation. And I also don’t want to pull out my phone every time. And because I give lectures and talks and I think having a watch on your wrist is the most important thing when talking publicly.
Stationary, which I had sent over. The only thing that connects me to my mom in these objects is that she uses Artline. You can get so many pens in New York, but you cannot get Artline. My mom uses black ones. I never write in blue, ever, except in aqua blue. Grey is my favorite. It feels almost like a pencil. I made Julian to go from store to store and accumulate these and ship them over.