Everyone you meet knows something you don’t. Part of doing an interview is learning things that you are curious about from experts and enthusiastic amateurs. Google searches don’t always give you the answers you may be looking for, as Jessica Cline tells Laura Glazer in their interview “How it Works to be Curious.” When sourcing through the web, “you don’t necessarily want to see the same image everyone else saw.” Asking people what they know or how they feel can give you a larger picture of what matters. An interview can be a tool to show that you care about someone. This is sort of like being a good host. Becca Kauffman talks with Fernando Perez in the interview “The Unexpected Host” about the intersection of hosting and interviewing, and how both require empathy and the ability to make people feel comfortable. “If you’re extremely empathic, that is reliably a good way to bring the best out of interview subjects,” says Perez.
As social practice artists we are regularly trying to create experiences for people as a form of art. In “Collaborative Curation, Ethical Exclusion, and the Materiality of Nightlife,” Luz Blumenfeld and Roya Amirsoleymani discuss how parties can be and are artworks: “I am frustrated by curatorial practices that simply display politics as content, signaling social justice values without living them, embedding them, operationalizing them, or building them into the ways in which a curatorial project or institution functions.” There are lots of reasons to conduct an interview. Sometimes it’s because you want to revisit a time in your life with someone who was there and find out if your memory matches theirs. Olivia Delgandio interviews her 2nd grade teacher about her teaching philosophies, a topic that may not have been on Olivia’s mind at seven, but is now a shared interest between the two. Sometimes an interview happens because you have someone in your life who is amazing at what they do and/or amazing at describing the world and you just want others to experience the person you have the privilege of having regular undocumented conversations with.
Reading interviews can make you feel like a backseat interviewer; you might wish different questions had been asked, or more time was spent on a particular idea. Remember, you can always conduct your own interview! Pursue a “self-educational” experience, explained in this issue by Harrell Fletcher in conversation with Kiara Walls. As we are so often reminded in our program, everyone you’re interested in is just a person, and you can always ask to talk to them. Go forth and interview! Here is some inspiration to get you started.
Emma Duehr Mitchell
The Social Forms of Art (SoFA) Journal is a publication dedicated to supporting, documenting and contextualising social forms of art and its related fields and disciplines. Each issue of the Journal takes an eclectic look at the ways in which artists are engaging with communities, institutions and the public. The Journal supports and discusses projects that offer critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding.
Created within the Portland State University Art & Social Practice Masters In Fine Arts. Program, SoFA Journal is now fully online.
Conversations on Everything is an expanding collection of interviews produced as part of SoFA Journal. Through the potent format of casual interviews as artistic research, insight is harvested from artists, curators, people of other fields and everyday humans. These conversations study social forms of art as a field that lives between and within both art and life.
Sponsored by the Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA Program