By Simone C. Porter
Julia Kim Smith is a conceptual artist dedicated to the exploration of political and social territory. Using performance, video, film, photography and printmaking as navigational systems, her work is as thought-provoking as it is minimalistic. Julia’s comically brilliant series on what it might be like to co-habitate with the temperamental British icon Banksy, has earned her more than a fair share of pop culture head nods. She took some time out to chat with us about With Banksy, 100 Survivors – a photo and video collaboration for women diagnosed with breast cancer — and the art scene in Baltimore.
CBSBaltimore.com: Describe your typical work environment.
Julia Kim Smith: I work in my studio, my kitchen, my car, whenever I can—I have a battered MacBook Pro – my workhorse, that goes everywhere. I listen to just one playlist for months until it drives everyone around me crazy. My present playlist includes Girl in a Coma’s “Adventures in Coverland,” The Rayeonettes’ “In and Out of Control,” and Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” soundtrack.
CBSBaltimore.com: Do you have a favorite piece?
JKS: “With Banksy.” People either love it or hate it but are rarely indifferent about it. I was inspired by Banksy’s “Exit Through The Gift Shop”; his funny, smart commentary on the art world. Few people seem to get that “With Banksy” is a feminist statement. I wasn’t surprised when “Juxtapoz” and “Kidrobot” covered this project, but I was surprised when “Hypebeast,” “GQ,” and “ShortList” (men’s publications) covered it. Either men like looking at a woman running around doing chores while a man lounges front and center, or they have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. I prefer to think it’s the latter.
CBSBaltimore.com: What is the current status of the “100 Survivors” project?
JKS: We launched the website in October 2011, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the response has been great. The website came together beautifully thanks to Linked by Air, the designers in New York. Kudos go to Francesca, all the “100 Survivors” participants, Linked by Air, Steve Parke (photographer). I envisioned the website as a living monument. I encourage people who are interested in the project to check out the site and its Facebook page.
CBSBaltimore.com: Has this particular project changed you in any way?
JKS: The project started as a collaboration between Francesca and myself. Since she’s passed away, I’ve continued to work with all the participants and we have gotten to know each other. They are great women—who happen to have breast cancer. We’ve heard from women who either have been to the exhibitions or visit the website that “100 Survivors” fills a void, it is what they need to get through the night.
CBSBaltimore.com: What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned thus far?
JKS: Half of my concepts fail.
CBSBaltimore.com: What are you currently working on?
JKS: “Miss DMZ (the Korean Demilitarized Zone),” a photo project about the political landscaping of North Korea and South Korea. Work from 100 Survivors will be exhibited in the A.I.R. Gallery National/International Exhibition – Brooklyn, New York- March 28th -April 22nd.
CBSBaltimore.com: Any advice for younger artists?
JKS: You have to figure it out on your own. The world is changing. There is no one way to do it.
For more on Julia Kim Smith’s work, visit www.juliakimsmith.com.
Interview by Simone C. Porter, Associate Producer, CBS Local