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The home of postgraduate study in contemporary art at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
Profile - Gianni Wise, PhD candidate

Gianni Wise is in the third year of his PhD at SCA, and is investigating how fear, conspiracies and paranoia are transmitted. 


Gianni Wise, Alienated Citizen, Berlin, 2012

Tell us a little bit about your background and the path you took to a PhD…

I finished an honours degree at CoFA, Sydney after a summer school at HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, Holland. After CoFA I lived in Chile and Argentina where my artwork developed a distinct political character. I feel coming back to studies and a PhD was in a way inevitable – I have realised I have needed to ask some questions on the relationship between aesthetics and politics and my role as an artist in this.

How do you describe your work?

As an artist I work across various media from the purely digital to object and installation, sometimes collaboratively and at other times on solo projects. I have evolved an extensive body of work which deals with notions of social paranoia, security, and narratives of fear. I engage with human anxiety and obsessions with conspiracy theories, B-grade cinema – whatever comes to mind. I want the viewer to experience that flash of paranoia at the sight of a ticking abandoned object or the sound of a siren. How do fear, conspiracies and paranoia circulate through minds, objects and world?


Gianni Wise, Eco-spirit, Modern Art Projects, 2014

Before you enrolled, what had you hoped to gain from being here?

Essentially to develop my art practice within an environment of like minded artists wanting to engage with me – I have this curiosity on how they see their practice – perhaps even to offer insights. I wanted to also feel more comfortable with the cross-disciplinary aspects of research. And I guess it was the challenge of coming up against myself within an open ended academic milieu that a PhD could create.

What have been the most beneficial aspects for you?

It gives me the space to reflect, develop and take myself outside of the ‘studio’ of my normal art practice. Also some of the conversations I have had with other candidates and the potentialities for collaborations. I have found that my art practice has more clarity. I do not mean literality but in the way that I can see a narrative of interrelated works developing into series of projects that respond to my writing.


Gianni Wise, Discomposed, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2012

What’s coming up or on the horizon for you?

It will be a series of short video works that are a result of some investigations into the drama-documentary. I am conceiving a group exhibition next year with 4 other artists who respond to fear and the impossibility of control the meaning of image in media. It would be shown in Brussels and Australia.

I have recently completed two projects engaging my research. At Alaska Projects, Sydney I connected ‘wires to brains’ to suggest a conspiracy of minds. This is the loop of the conspiracy theorist who in looking for a ‘deeper’ reality finds yet another ‘surface’ reality. I literally used plastic medical model brains. Extending on this theme of construction of fear I recently exhibited Galerie Neues Problem, Berlin-mitte, Germany. My combination photographic documentation and ‘found box at the railway station’ and was response to alienation of the citizen under a regime of surveillance through technologies. The box is the abandoned object.


Gianni Wise, Brain Rain, Alaska Projects, 2013

Which artists do you think are doing interest things at the moment?

Suzanne Treister’s wall drawing as maps (what she refers to as ‘visual mapping’) expose contentious global theories as a counter to “conspiracy theorist” label often used used as a derisive dismissal of ‘difficult’ views.

The Russian artist, Anna Jermolaewa who fled from St. Petersburg 23 years ago for political reasons. She uses video as means to represent abject hopelessness and a powerful sense of anxiety. It is as if she adopts Beckett’s ability to create a ‘panic’ of endless waiting – in banal scenes a dramatic quality.

All images courtesy Gianni Wise

— 5 months ago
#Student Profile  #gianni wise  #PhD 

Kate Beckingham and Anna McMahon met during their Honours year at SCA and have both gone on to develop their practice through the Master of Fine Arts program offered by the Graduate School. Kate finished in 2012, Anna is a current student. They make work together as OK COOL YEAH GREAT, and will ‘face off’ against each other this Friday night at the opening of SafARI LIVE


OK YEAH COOL GREAT, false joy, 2011, film still

Tell us a bit about your background, how you ended up at SCA and how you started working together as OKYCG?

We met during our Honours year at SCA: Anna was new to Sydney having moved here after undergrad in Queensland, and Kate had just returned from two years of travelling and living overseas. We sat next to each other in the first Honours meeting and found out that we had the same supervisor – Julie Rrap.  It was then we formed OK YEAH COOL GREAT, we both wanted to create work that was more open to ideas of fashion, design and aesthetic consideration in comparison to our own theoretical practices.  Our first show as OK YEAH COOL GREAT was at the end of 2010 in Anna’s home town of Toowoomba in Queensland.  

How do you describe your work?

It’s cross-disciplinary, drawing influences from art history, fashion and design. We are also very interested in exploring the act of actually working together as a collective. Currently we are working on an extended series that investigates the status and position of artist as oracle. Aesthetically we are interested in simplicity, clean lines and elements of minimalism. We like trying to say as much as possible with as little as possible.  


Don’t be scared, OK YEAH COOL GREAT, 2014, Voile Banner, 100 x 100cm

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process and what working together as OKYCG actually entails?

Our creative process is based on ongoing conversations. We talk about things we’ve seen, shows we’re excited about or magazine articles we’ve read. Realising our work is always a shared process of introducing interesting elements and finding visual solutions. We both have our strengths and weaknesses and we have both learnt how to compromise, and when to push an idea.

Tell us a bit about being at SCA, and what art school has been like for both of you - What have been the most beneficial aspects? Why not just be in the studio somewhere, without the structure and requirements of academia?

Kate: I completed my MFA in 2012 but continue to draw on the themes explored during that period. The MFA program gave me both a platform to expand my own conceptual concerns and form relationships with fellow emerging artists, and these relationships continue to be important to me now. Ultimately though, I think an academic environment allows you time to think seriously about your practice and what you want your work to be.  


Kate Beckingham, Memory Form 3, 2013, Fine Art Inkjet Print, 29x19 cm

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— 7 months ago
#Student Profile  #alumni  #kate beckingham  #anna mcmahon  #okay yeah cool great 
Profile - Yanai Toister, PhD candidate

Yanai Toister commenced the Doctor of Philosophy program in 2012 after completing a Master of Fine Arts at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles. Yanai has an extensive exhibition record and his photographic practice focuses on the fundamental element of the medium: light. We talked to Yanai about his work and his experience of PhD study.

Untitled (Fuji #8), 2012, C-print on Duraflex paper, 87.5/70 cm

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up enrolled in a PhD at SCA Grad School…

I have been a practicing artist for over 12 years and in addition have done a fair amount of writing curating and teaching. In the last few years I had wanted to get more serious about my writing and SCA seemed like the perfect environment to do that.

How would you describe your work?

While I was educated in a ‘German’ tradition of photography my work was always conceptual. The first groups of works that I had made followed a neo-objectivist path to some extent. Later, and while living in Los Angeles, I drifted more into abstraction, making work that was around architecture and very installation conscious. In the last few years I have been interested in theories of human vision, colour perception and how those interact with computation. Appropriately, therefore, I have been recently writing more with a keyboard than with light.

The Keepers of Light, 2010, 21 Duraflex Prints, 300x60 cm each (installation view, Dvir gallery)

What does a typical week in your life as a Ph.D. student look like?

I have recently found that routine is under-rated. That is to say that I try to maintain a strict discipline of yoga, research and writing. Some weeks are better than others but I would say that, on average, I spend at least four days a week in the studio (which can at times be in front of the computer, at the library or elsewhere).  

The Keepers of Light, 2010, 21 Duraflex Prints, 300x60 cm each (installation view, Dvir gallery)

Before you enrolled, what had you hoped to gain from studying here?

The ability to traverse comfortably between various interests like photography, film and writing and the knowledge of how to combine them. I also looked forward to the exchange with people with interests similar to mine, and especially those coming from different disciplines. I am intrigued by the different ways philosophers, engineers and of course artists from different media think about and talk about issues pertaining to color and vision (be it human or machine)

Why art school at all? Why not just be out in the industry or in a studio somewhere, without the structure and requirements of a university?

It’s very easy to fall into a freelance lifestyle that isn’t so challenging. Personally I could say ‘been there, done that and can always do it again’. Instead I find that a flexible academic system does much more for me in the way of inspiring my creativity, structuring it and giving it new avenues.

GH T-3 (from KPU), 2008, Archival pigment print on cotton rag paper, 90/141 cm

What have been the most beneficial aspects for you so far?

Without a doubt the thought-provoking conversations I have with my supervisor, Prof. Ross Gibson.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Having recently completed a monograph publication, I am looking forward to the opportunity of getting ahead with some writing. After I’ve done that I’ll be able to determine which of a few possible directions I am taking. So there might be light installation down the road, a computer generated film and a few object-based projects. these will probably take place in the next couple of years. 

Who are artists that you think are doing interest things right now?

I am always interested in anything technical, optical and phenomenological. James Turrel never ceases to amaze me, as do Olafur Eliasson and Chris Marker. Closer to home, and in pertinence to ‘technical images,’ anything between John Gerrard and Tacita Dean is where I am looking at.  


Doctor of Philosophy

— 11 months ago with 2 notes
#Student Profile  #PhD  #yanai toister 
Profile - Nok Punpraw, MIDM student

Nok Punpraw is web designer who is about to complete the Master of Interactive and Digital Media (MIDM), and is currently working as a freelancer designing and illustrating graphics for a retail store interior. 


NOKI Autumn/Winter Collection, 2013, iPad/web app,

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to the MIDM…

Initially, I completed my Bachelor degree in industrial design. Although it was fun, I found the technicalities of manufacturing products extremely difficult and definitely not my forte. I have always preferred to work with graphics and the aesthetical side of things, so I decided to work as a web designer after I graduated for 2 years. I realised my limited coding capability were restricting my designs and felt the need to expand my skills. So here I am, studying MIDM at SCA in order to become a more respectable designer in this field! 

What does your work and a typical week in your life as a MIDM student look like?

I enjoy producing designs that portray a lively atmosphere so I tend to integrate bright colours together with engaging illustrations. I also like to incorporate animations, making my websites less static and more captivating. I spend a great deal of time doing illustrations and finding my own style of drawing. Looking at what other respected designers around the world have created is important to me as I always try to match their standard as much as possible. I then find ways in bringing these graphics to life on an interactive website using HTML, CSS, Javascript/jQuery and Adobe Edge Animate. Coming to the campus for individual consultation with the teachers also provides me with assistance with technical aspects. 

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— 1 year ago with 2 notes
#Student Profile  #midm 
Profile - Zan Wimberley, Master of Studio Art student

Zan Wimberley is a freelance photographer who has been enrolled in the Master of Studio Art since early 2012.


Ryoji Ikeda, Test Pattern 5, commissioned and presented by Carriageworks & ISEA2013 in collaboration with Vivid Sydney, photographed by Zan Wimberley 

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at SCA Grad School?

I’m a freelance photographer and I work mainly within the contemporary arts. I do artist portraits, install documentation, performance and event documentation, marketing images for exhibitions and performance works as well as working as a technician photographer for artists when they want a professional looking photograph, but don’t know quite how to achieve it. 

I have quite a high level of technical proficiency in photography; my Undergrad was a Bachelor of Applied Science in Photography (from RMIT).  I have also worked in film for a couple of years, so I have a good understanding of story telling with lens & light. It’s a solid combination when it comes to documenting the arts and working with artists.


Nikhil Chopra, Blackening IV: Bay 19, 2012, photographed by Zan Wimberley for Carriageworks

My undergrad degree was very technically focused, and we didn’t do any general art theory or history, or (other than when it intercepted with technical) any history or theory of photography. Working in the arts so much, I realised there was a huge gap in my knowledge and I wanted to be able to better understand everything I was seeing on a more theoretical level and also to be able to use that knowledge to develop my own artistic practice.

How would you describe your creative work and practice?

What I’m working on now is a light and antagonizing look at mortality, exploring parallels between death, permanence and internet culture.

In the last 14 months I’ve lost quite a few people in my life including my Dad. This has left me thinking about death a lot. From working with these thoughts my work was very melancholy, (too much Barthes) but I got sick of being so sad all the time. 


Zan Wimberley, YOLO, HD Timelapse Video, 2013

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— 1 year ago
#Student Profile  #zan wimberley  #MSA 
Profile – Eduardo Wolfe-Alegria, MFA candidate


Oceanid, 2013, synthetic polymer clay, aluminium, acrylic paint, epoxy resin. Photo: Thomasz Machnik

Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to the Grad School…

I came from a graphic and textile design background, but always maintained a personal drawing and painting practice. In 2009 I decided to focus primarily on my painting practice, which led to a solo exhibition early 2011. At that stage, I felt like I needed to re-engage with contemporary theory and art discourse – to delve deeper into the ideas underpinning my work, so I enrolled in the Master of Studio Art (MSA) in March 2011. After finishing my MSA I took a semester off and began the Master of Fine Arts halfway through 2012. 

What kind of work do you make?

At this stage I would describe my work as a kind of psychedelic, surrealist mysticism. On a formal level I am interested in excess and detail – I often incorporate a level of detail into my work which is almost overwhelming. In terms of content, I tend to work through a very personal lens. I see my practice as intrinsically linked with my unconscious – I’ll have initial visual images or “ideas”, which I will tease out iteratively – through my process of making, as well as through reading and writing, discovering the core meanings and associations of these images. At the moment I am exploring relationships between surrealism, spirituality and biology, through biomorphic paintings and sculptures, in an attempt to address the apparent eschewal of the term “spirituality” in contemporary discourse.   


La Chaise, 2011, acrylic paint, synthetic polymer clay, polymer resin, aluminium, wood. Photo: Ian Hobbs 

What does a typical week in your life as a MFA student look like?

Usually a juggle between paid work, studio time and research time. I am half-way through my degree and finding that I tend to have periods where I spend the majority of time in the studio and then other periods where I spend most of my time reading and writing. 

Before you enrolled, what had you hoped to gain from studying here? Why not just be out in the industry or in a studio somewhere, without the structure and requirements of a university?

A number of reasons I would say. I enrolled in MFA to further understand my place in the framework of contemporary arts discourse as well as to strengthen my work both conceptually and in practice. I also hoped to build on personal and professional networks. 

Having the guidance and mentorship of professional artists and writers has been invaluable.

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— 1 year ago
#student profile  #mfa  #msa  #eduardo wolfe-alegria 
Profile - Cigdem Aydemir, MFA candidate

Cigdem Aydemir, who recently won the emerging artist prize in the 2013 Redlands Knoica Minolta Art Prize, started the Master of Fine Arts in February this year. 


Bombshell, video still, 2013. Videographer: Kenneth Simpson

Tell us a little bit about your background - what path led you to SCA Grad School?

Art was never on the cards for me as a school student, I had only ever studied art in Year 7 and it didn’t have an impact on me. Design was much more interesting at the time. I started studying art education at COFA, and my plan was to earn some income as a teacher while I produced my own designs. Since then, I have been producing artworks and feeling more connected to the practice of art. I decided to study the MFA course at SCA to further my interests and career in this field.

How would you describe your work?

Discursive, personal, absurd, beautiful.

What does a typical week in your life as a MFA candidate look like?

At the moment it is about reading, taking notes and trying to find my feet basically - yes, even 6 months on!

Before you enrolled, what had you hoped to gain from studying here?

I wanted to be able to critically engage with the art world. Art doesn’t happen in isolation, there are contexts, histories and reasons for why certain works are read in certain ways. I wanted to learn how to articulate my practice whilst having the freedom to develop my own art-making and have that count towards a qualification.

Why art school at all? Why not just be in the studio somewhere, without the structure and requirements of academia?

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— 1 year ago
#Student Profile  #mfa  #Cigdem Aydemir 
Profile - Mimi Kelly, PhD Candidate

Mimi Kelly started in the Doctor of Philosophy program in 2011 after several years working for institutions such as the MCA, Adelaide Fringe Festival, and the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia. Mimi’s practice incorporates performance, photomedia, installation and moving image; we talked to her about her work and her experience of PhD study. 


  Mimi Kelly, Loin of Loam (production still diptych), 2013, Photo: Dan Freene

Tell us a little bit about you and the path you took to the PhD…

I completed my Honours degree at art school, but then moved into arts management, working with contemporary visual arts and digital media in festivals and touring exhibitions. I thought of postgraduate study as a way to return to my art practice, which I had very much put on hold. It took a long time for it to feel like ‘the right time’ to return to study, and I also felt there were criteria and experience I needed to have in place before I applied. With the encouragement of my supervisor, I was very glad when I did make my decision and went through with my application. 

Before you enrolled, what had you hoped to gain from studying here?

Before I enrolled, I had hoped that further study would facilitate, very simply but importantly, the opportunity to focus on the creation of new work for a sustained period of time, and the chance to delve more deeply into my chosen area of research. The ‘contribution to new knowledge’ was a fairly daunting prospect, but having worked full time in arts management for several years, I was ready for a shift into a much more academic and rigorous engagement with contemporary art and theory. 

What does a typical week in your life as a PhD candidate look like? 

Well, like most other PhD students I have to balance work, personal life and study. I work part time at the Power Institute at the University of Sydney, which is an excellent and very interesting place to work. When I do come to my research, particularly writing, it can take a bit to get into things, and it remains a bit of a struggle - even though I am so happy to have the time and enjoy the flexibility of self-directed study. I have found all kinds of amazing ways to procrastinate. Celebrity websites, online shopping, cleaning, even starting my tax return (!). It’s ridiculous, but it’s also part of the process. I recently went to a talk by Professor Elizabeth Grosz - and I may be interpreting what she said incorrectly - but I got the impression this was a fairly common path to output. I’m counting on that as an indication that it’s not all bad! 

For my artwork there is a lot of organising and juggling of my time and other people’s schedules, because I produce work with the assistance of others. It’s rather intense, and so much has to align for a video shoot, for example, but it is an incredibly enjoyable process and highly rewarding at the end.


Mimi Kelly, Loin of Loam (production still diptych), 2013. Photo: Cassie Charlton

Tell us a little bit about your work…

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— 1 year ago
#PhD  #student profile 
Profile - Lucas Davidson, MFA candidate

Lucas Davidson started at SCA in 2010 by enrolling in the Master of Studio Art. After winning the Dominik Mersch Gallery prize for his MSA project, Lucas also undertook the Master of Fine Arts. His examination exhibition for the MFA was held in December 2012.


      Lucas Davidson, Slowly we unfold, 2011, image courtesy of the artist

Tell us a little bit about your background and why you came to SCA…

I have always maintained a creative practice but never had a formal art education. My interests are quite varied, so SCA was appealing to me because of its flexibility. Having a self-directing approach to research as well as fostering cross-disciplinary processes was the ideal environment for me to expand upon my chosen areas of interest.

If flexibility was important to you, why not keep working outside a system like a university?

Art school was an opportunity to be exposed to practices and people that were outside my social circles and different from my previous education. Being around teachers who are successful practicing artists and peers who offer critical and supportive feedback is an invaluable resource.


        Lucas Davidson, Mindfield, 2012, image courtesy of the artist

What have been the most beneficial aspects for you?

For me it is the people: having one-to-one access to my supervisor, Lindy Lee, having opportunities to talk to a diverse group of lecturers, and seeing the practice of my peers develop – these people have all played an important role in the development of my own work. I think my ideas have remained on a similar trajectory, I still have the same questions, but my approach to practice and research has become more considered and refined.

How would you describe your work?

My current practice separates photo emulsion from its paper base, turning the photographic image into a fluid object. The final works become photo, video and installation works that examine the body as a site of transformation. 


Lucas Davidson, installation view, SCA Postgraduate Degree Show, 2012, image courtesy of the artist

And what’s up next for you now that your MFA is done?

I am currently doing a six-month residency at Bondi-Waverley Council. I am also working on new works for upcoming shows – I have one at Firstdraft from 24 April to 11 May, and one at Dominik Mersch Gallery from 25 May.

See more of Lucas’ work at

Read about the Dominik Mersch Gallery award 

Find about the Master of Fine Arts and Master of Studio Art

— 1 year ago
#student profile  #MFA  #MSA