Even Agatha Gothe-Snape struggles to define her art. While performance may be the easiest description, there are many avenues winding through her practice including dance, collaboration, text, public works, PowerPoint slide presentations, augmented reality and documentary. If the form of Gothe-Snape’s work can be slippery, so too can the content. Broadly speaking, much of her work looks at artistic processes, the canon of art history, and the social and aesthetic contexts that artworks sit within.
In a career barely brushing one decade, Gothe-Snape has exhibited widely. She’s the only artist to have shown in all iterations of the Sydney exhibition series The National, and was also included in the 20th Biennale of Sydney — not to mention she’s also the subject of an Archibald-winning painting created by her partner Mitch Cairns.
Most recently, Gothe-Snape was commissioned by Kaldor Public Art Projects for the exhibition Making art public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects. For the show, Agatha created Lion’s honey, an ongoing performance in which a single person reads to themselves each day in the gallery. It’s this work that becomes the focus of the podcast, with Gothe-Snape recounting how the performances came to fruition — just when she was at the edge of refusing a commission — it was hearing a fable that brought her back into creating. It’s Gothe-Snape’s telling of the story that gives such an insight into her practice, and how she thinks about art.
In particular, Gothe-Snape is interested in the relations that weave through works of art. In the podcast she speaks about these relationships, and the bonds of faith that occur between artists, artworks and viewers. “I don’t enjoy looking at work that’s telling me what to think or what to do, and I certainly don’t enjoy making it. What I enjoy is being completely deeply embedded within my internal logic, and the world of the making, and the complexity of the making, and the complexity of the relationships that arise out of that,” she says.
Gothe-Snape also talks about the experience of being part of an artistic family, why she eventually went to art school, the role of language in her work, her thoughts on John Hughes and the art canon, and her struggles with the label of “art”.
In addition to Lion’s Honey at AGNSW, Gothe-Snape is currently exhibiting The Outcome is Certain at Monash University Museum of Art, which marks the first large-scale show to survey her practice.
Podcast produced by Tiarney Miekus. Engineered by Mino Peric. Music by Jesse L. Warren.