Travis H Heinrich talks about the incredible universality of art, the everyday and how a camera is no different to a paint brush. Interview by Emma Steinfort.
How do you define your practice?
As far as artistic definitions go, I suppose I would be seen as a video artist, or an artist who predominately uses new-media devices when making a work. The artworks I make often showcase everyday objects or situations, and are framed in such a way that their (often unseen) sublime idiosyncrasies are highlighted when placed in the context of an artwork. It’s a very broad approach to making work, but I suppose it’s my version of an autobiography – in that I am trying to capture and communicate the odd little fractions in my world that I find myself hypnotised by. I would not call it a practice, but more a lifelong experiment in curiosity.
You recently curated the show “We – a space to explore art, disability & inclusion” at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Banyule. How important is it that we recognise diverse and intersectional voices within the arts?
This has both a rhetorical and critical answer. Everyone, I would hope, is pretty clued into how art is this incredibly universal thing that everybody can get on board with. Even if you don’t make it yourself, you see its value and positive application across all slithers of society. The show I co-curated really highlighted the value of art being an incredibly important communicative tool; I saw artists, living with a disability, communicating ideas through their art that would otherwise go unsaid. The critical part, is how the art world in Melbourne works: regarding supremely talented artists such as these who might not have the opportunity to submit exhibition applications ad nauseam, attend events to network, or simply write a cohesive paper describing their work. It’s sad that the gallerists and curators are missing out on work such as theirs, simply as they don’t think to search outside their comfort zone.
Your video work often examines the everyday through the removal of their original context. Do you see the camera as an extension of your eye, or a tool?
The camera is no different than the paint brush: it’s a tool that makes a representation of something else, it just happens to look a bit more real. I see my camera a clunky tool, and it doesn’t have too much to do with my eye, it’s about my capturing that moment of being captivated by something.
You have stated that you are “currently having an artistic mid-life crisis; and it’s wonderful.” What have you learnt about yourself as an artist?
Ha! Well, to be honest this quote of mine is a few years old, and lazy at that (not to mention the grammar having a crisis of its own). It’s the Sisyphus crisis that artists know too well. What have I learnt from it? Well, no more than I have than through my failed cooking experiments, travel expeditions, and conversations with friends over beers. That said, I am definitely shit at my fair share of things in regards to being an artist. I’ll keep those to myself though.
What are you watching right now?
I’ve been re-watching a lot of Chris Burden videos since he recently passed away. He’s the perfect artist to me in a lot of ways, especially regarding his eclectic approach and humour. I thoroughly recommend checking out his video works on UbuWeb (Big Wrench is a must)
I’ve also been binging on Shaye Saint John as of recent. Another departed artist who made wonderful work:
More about the artist
Travis H Heinrich is a Melbourne based artist and curator who graduated from the ANU School of Art in 2011. He is a multi-disciplinary artist who utilizes the moving image (particularly digital video), immersive installations, and contemporary explorations of tromp l’oeil tradition. Heinrich work aims to explore his relationship to quotidian phenomenological experiences and often employs evanescent subjects to achieve this.
You can see his work, Cosmic Surgery (2015) in the exhibition Videophilia: A Walking Exhibition at Adelphi Hotel from the 19-27 September.