Season One – Kelly Fliedner

Image credit: Susie Blatchford

Kelly Fliedner

Season 1 – Episode 9


Instagram handle @klfliedner


Kiera Brew Kurec 0:10
Hi, I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

Nick Breedon 0:11
And I’m Nick Breedon,

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:13
and you’re listening to Pro Prac,

Nick Breedon 0:14
a podcast where we explore the professional practice of artists and hear their stories.

Today, our guest is Kelly Fliedner. Kelly is a Perth based writer and curator who writes fiction and art criticism and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia in the School of Design where she teaches. Some of Kelly’s recent projects include a curatorial and publishing program with Bangalore based artists Abhishek Hazra for West Space and a column about art and books for Runway journal. From 2016 until 2017, Kelly was the writer and editor of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale based in Kerala, India. Kelly’s current research is interested in the discourses of post colonialism and decolonization as they manifest in the contemporary art of India. In 2016, Kelly presented a series of radio plays for the Next Wave festival, and was one of six artists taking part in the Biennale of Sydney’s experimental writing project the Bureau of Writing. Both of these projects have been incorporated into an ongoing project called On the Beach, a podcast that focuses on the convergence of critical and creative discourses surrounding contemporary art. Kelly was program curator at West Space and artists run initiative in Melbourne from 2009 until 2013, and co-founder and co-editor with Rowan McNaught of their online publication the West Space Journal until 2015.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:38
Thanks so much for joining us today, Kelly. Joining us via FaceTime today, as well, this is our first time doing this the wonders of the internet, bringing us all together.

Kelly Fliedner 1:52
Thanks Kiera for having me. Let’s just see how we go with Facetime fingers crossed, we don’t get cut off too many times the failures of NBN fucking us up constantly. (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 2:08
So let’s kick this off by asking you, how did you get to where you are today?

Kelly Fliedner 2:15
Um, okay, so I actually find this a really difficult question to answer. Because, like I was saying before, I have a really diverse practice. And often it’s really difficult when people ask me what I do to have like, any kind of coherent answer, because that can be any one time of the day, like a really different thing like arts administrator, curator, writer, I have different writing practices, I write criticism I write for catalogues, I write my own creative work. I have like a weird writing practice that is in between creative and critical. And I often I work as a teacher, I’m doing my PhD. I have expertise overseas, and at home, like all of these things are quite diverse and are all still like very important parts of like, what I think of as like an extended kind of creative practice, but everything that has led up, like everything that I’ve done in my career, my 12 or so years, in the arts industry has played an important role in all of the projects that I’m like working on right now. But it’s not it doesn’t have like a kind of linear trajectory. It’s not like, I can kind of pinpoint one particular moment and say, That’s why I’m here now. There’s like, no particular one narrative or one story of like, that defines my practice as such, so it’s just a difficult question. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 3:47
So for you, was there a particular kind of point in time when you were a bit younger that you decided to pursue a career in the arts? Or did you sort of find yourself there naturally going towards that? Tell us a little bit about that kind of story.

Kelly Fliedner 4:03
Um, so I haven’t ever been like a strategic person in terms of my involvement in the arts, like, it’s always been very intuitive. And I feel like a really lucky person actually, like I was in the right place at the right times, or certain people, like took a liking to me and kind of nurtured my involvement in the arts and kind of encouraged it. And so, there hasn’t been one particular point, although I am lucky in that I’ve had a very supportive like every I felt like the arts has always been like open and accessible to me, even though like I grew up in regional Victoria and my family have pretty working class and I never had, like art was never a thing. I don’t think I really ever visited an art gallery or museum like the whole of my high school years, and so art wasn’t like ever a kind of thing that, for me, like, it wasn’t that it was inaccessible or not open, it just wasn’t ever a thing. But having said that, um, I was always a pretty creative kid like, and a pretty critically minded kid too, like I always had like quite an active political engagement with what was like happening around me for like, even just like a young teenager, being really conscious of like, kind of social and political mechanisms around me. So I guess like having that kind of critical engagement with the world around me really helped. And also, I read like, shitloads of books when I was a kid. So I think that really helps like, you kind of building a foundation for being in the arts. And then I got into an arts degree at Melbourne University, and just, I just really liked all of the art history subjects. Like that’s really how it was like, I liked the art history subjects over the history subjects. And so I did more of them. And then I was really lucky, because at Melbourne University, there was some really, really good teachers when I was there, Charles Green who is still there, but Antony Gardener who isn’t there anymore, or I had a tutor in it was maybe like a contemporary art subject, Jared Rollins, who now works at MONA in Hobart. But you know, like, I think I was always just really active in class, like participating in conversation. And Jared, one day said to me, Hey, are you volunteering at any galleries in Melbourne? And I was like, No, I didn’t even know that that was like a thing that you did. And he was like, Yeah, yeah, you shouldn’t like go volunteer at one of the ARI’s or something. And I was like, Well, what, what are his and he was like, I’ve got a friend, Mark Feary at West Space, you should like, go have a chat to him. I’m like, that is literally how I like started in the arts. Because West Space is like, so important for my early career and will actually still really important plays a really important role in the way that I like, kind of navigate the arts or the relationships that I’ve built. And, and so just like kind of going and hanging out at West Space, and like volunteering. That seems like such a pivotal kind of thing to happen when you’re a teenager still, you know, yeah.

Kiera Brew Kurec 7:23
That’s incredible. And how long were you at West Space for?

Kelly Fliedner 7:27
So like, a really long time, like too long, like an embarrassingly amount of long time. Um, yeah, so I guess I’ve started volunteering there during undergrad. And actually, this is an important thing, because just getting the vibe with this podcast is that you kind of talking to younger artists like getting started, I volunteered so much in my undergrad. And I think that when you’re like everyone has is everyone has a really different kind of experience of undergrad. But it is like the time of your life when you don’t really need that much money. And you can like get by, like working your ass off like I had two part time jobs was doing uni full time and volunteering at like three arts organizations, it’s like hectic. But I think um, by the time that I’d finished undergrad, I’d had all this experience already. So it wasn’t too difficult to me, for me to make a transition into actual paid work, after undergrad and I know that lots of people spend their undergrad kind of immersed in the university kind of structure, which is great. And I kind of wish that I had have spent a little bit more time being more intellectual in undergrad, but I was just working too much and like doing all this other stuff and had energy and other places. But I kind of don’t regret that either. Because as soon as I got out, I was kind of really well placed to actually have a job. Um, but yeah, so I started at West Space during undergrad, and I guess I just was hanging out there so much, and really enjoying having conversations with everyone who was there at the time. And that includes people like Vicki McInnes, and Simon Maidment and Mark Feary and all of those people who have become like, who at that time were like really important mentors to me. And at some stage, I got invited to be on the program committee. And then and all of these roles are still voluntary, but are kind of important, are important kind of institutional roles to have because you learn so much about art spaces when you’re involved in program committees and committees attached to artists run initiatives. And then at some stage, I was acting program coordinator. So Mark Feary had gone overseas. I think he’d gone to like, Korea or something on on some kind of Aus Co program and and he asked me if I will would take over for him for three months. And I did. And in that time, I curated an exhibition and did a bunch of stuff and was slowly building a really good working relationship with the new director Phip Murray at that time. And then Mark, he never came back to West Space, he essentially got a job at another gallery. And then the position was open. And then I applied for that position. And I got it. So when I was saying I was lucky before, I really truly mean that, like, I was lucky to be in the like the right place at the right time. And so I became Program Coordinator at West Space, a roll that changed to program curator so it had more of a kind of curatorial kind of agenda, probably halfway through the time that I was there. And I think I had that role, those two roles for about four years. I’m not quite sure it could be a bit less than that. But um, at some point, there was a move from Anthony street to Bourke Street, where West Spaces has been up until now for the last like four or five years, I think. And now it’s moving on again. But I was kind of there for the move did a bunch of offside projects with Phip Murray worked on some really big curatorial projects for Next Wave, and Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and just like all these other random crazy projects. And then, toward the end of my time, as program curator at West Space, I initiated a project with Rowan McNaught called the West Space Journal, which was an online and quite experimental publishing kind of platform that we worked on together for a few years. And I resigned as program curator and kind of stayed on as editor of the West Space journal for a few years after that. So I have no idea how much in total that is, but it’s like, six or so years that I was involved. Yeah. And then actually, last year I also got to curate a project with West Space. So it’s a relationship that has like kind of continued for a very, very long time. So obviously, that space is like really important to me.

Kiera Brew Kurec 12:15
While you were in those roles, we also working on your writing practice, like your creative writing practice at the same time, or was that something that you kind of put on hold for a while?

Kelly Fliedner 12:28
Yeah, actually, it’s really, I found it really difficult when I was working at West Space to do any kind of creative projects outside of West Space. So and I actually really think about that first part of my career in the arts. The first part that was like predominantly at West Space although I worked at heaps of other arts organizations as well, like, I did work with Un magazine. And I worked with a regional art organization called Punctum, which does like experimental performance. And so it wasn’t like West Space was the only thing that I was kind of doing. But it definitely was like the focus of that first kind of six years of my career. Um and I just was working like a crazy person like Phip and I, and everyone else involved with West Space, at that stage didn’t have ongoing funding. So we were. So now West Space is a key arts organization with the Australia Council. So it has ongoing operational funding, which is wonderful, and it totally needs it. But when I started there, it didn’t have that. So that kind of happened a little bit later on in the scheme. So my first like few years of working at West Space was just so intense, because the only way that we could fund the organization which included paying rent and paying out like very minimal wages, like he I was getting paid like for two days a week at like pro rata, 35 grand or something. So it’s like kind of crazy, thinking back how much you work for, like so little money, but all of that was getting funded through projects. So you would have like, little extra parts of projects that would kind of go into operational funding or whatever. So we’re just working a shitload. And I really didn’t have the mental space to be able to work on my own creative writing until much later on in the project when West Space had kind of secured funding and there was more space to kind of think about things in a kind of open way. And also, starting the West Space journal and working on that project with Rowan McNaught, which was a far more kind of experimental approach to arts writing and language that I never really pushed my writing in that kind of way before. So working on that project with him really was the start of my thinking about having a career as like a creative practitioner as well as like an administrator

Nick Breedon 15:02
So um, after after West Space, then what happened?

Kelly Fliedner 15:08
It’s still going. And then what happened?

Nick Breedon 15:12
How did we get to India from, from West Space?

Kelly Fliedner 15:15
Oh shit there is so much in between. So after West Space, I just didn’t want, Actually, I must have been there for less than five years as the program curator because I I remember having that time in my head, I was like, I can’t be here for more than five years. Like I was really conscious of that as a deadline. I was like, I can’t be in this organization for more than five years. And it wasn’t even so much for like, my, like, personal growth.

Nick Breedon 15:44
What kind of millennial Are you Kelly? Like, yeah, job for five years are you crazy?

Kelly Fliedner 15:51
Well I think also, I was like, I obviously really care about West Space and institution. And I think that it’s really unhealthy when people stay at institutions for the institution sake. Like, it’s just so much better when people kind of give space up for like a next generation or someone else to kind of come in and like do their own thing. I think it’s really unhealthy when people stay at the one spot, it’s unhealthy for them, and it’s unhealthy for the organization. So I was very conscious of that being like a deadline. So I resigned from West Space with literally no idea of what I wanted to do. And I was so lucky, I got a residency through the Australia Council. And I went to London for four months to I guess, like, have some space and think about my writing practice. And I think I really genuinely got that, that residency off the back working on West Space journal. So they kind of saw that I was interested in experimental publishing platforms and kind of collaborative writing projects and different kind of ways of thinking about writings relationship with the arts. And so I, so I was asked to go and do that. And so I had four months in the UK, meeting other young writers and practitioners and getting to do workshops with a really amazing people like a writer Maria Fusco, who’s an experimental arts writer, who’s writing practices really influenced mine. And so I got, I was really lucky. Um, and while I was over there, so all of this sounds really boring, probably, because it sounds like a series of domino effects. But I feel like everything has kind of led on to one thing for me then, when I was in the UK, I think Tony Abbott came into power. And I had this like, epic panic attack about Oh, fuck, there’s gonna be like, no money for the arts, like this is real fucked. Like, what am I going to do, I’m going to have to get a job. And so that kind of sense of like, reality really kicked in when I was over there, because I, like enjoyed this amazing, like, gift of having four months without having to like work on anything but your own, like, creative self. And just, like have the space to like, think of ideas like not, there’s like no pressure, cuz you don’t have to acquit anything and they’re not expecting you to like have an outcome. And so I just had this like, dread of like, coming back to Australia and Tony Abbott being the prime minister and like, I need a job. So I really hustled in the last part of my residency to get a job to come back to. And once again, I was super lucky, I got a job at Monash University Museum of art in a communications role. So I was there for two years. And you know what, it wasn’t the right role for me. I really, I found out really quickly that like communications just wasn’t something I was interested in. I don’t think I was particularly bad at it. Like I probably was pretty good people I’ve worked with have said that I was like, a good like I was good at my job. But it just wasn’t something that I was like into. I loved working at MUMA, though, because I really believed in their program, and everyone else who worked there was like wonderful. All of the curators there and the staff. And also, it’s just a fucking excellent gallery with an amazing collection. And they give heaps of opportunities to emerging practitioners from Australia. And it’s just a really great institution, but the role wasn’t for me. But having said that, while I worked there for the two years, I worked pretty solidly continuing my creative practices. So I was only I was only working like three days a week, so I had the extra time to kind of work on other stuff. And so when I was at Monash I worked on two big creative projects, one with Next Wave festival, and the other one with the Sydney Biennale. Both like pretty intense, kind of creative projects. The one with Sydney Biennale was a collaborative project called the Bureau of Writing and the one with Next Wave was a writing project where I was writing kind of creative responses to other projects in Next Wave. Anyway, blah, blah, blah, The Sydney Biennale project. When I was there, I met an artist from India. His name was Sudarshan Shetty and he was exhibiting at art gallery of New South Wales with the Biennale. And we just like, from happenstance had an amazing conversation about the relationship that art has with writing. And I was seeing a person at the time who is now my husband, Robbie, who is half Indian. And so I remember saying to this guy Sudarshan and I knew that he was the next curator of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale which is a Biennale based in the south of India. I was like, Look, Robbie and I are going to come to India. So if you want any, if you want any help with some writing, because he was curating the biennale, but he’s not a writer, himself, or curator, he’s an artist and, and we had had this amazing kind of creative conversation, like we obviously really got along. And at some point, he emailed me and offered me a full time job with the biennale. So it kind of was like, just a lots of really like kind of lucky happenstances, like I was at Sydney biennale working on a writing project. And I met an artist who was working on this other project, and we just had a great conversation. And it also was meaningful that like, my partner is Indian. And so the jump, like going and working on a project in India didn’t seem like too much of a kind of crazy leap. Like I felt like comfortable about doing that.

Kiera Brew Kurec 21:46
So much of our practices lead from one project to the other. And we don’t know exactly where we’re going to end up at the end of it, we kind of start off with one idea and end up somewhere else. So and, and also, I think, the interesting thing about different people coming into your lives, like you’re networking, essentially, by creating friendships with people, and they’re the people that will end up like putting you up for positions or advocating for you at a meeting to put you forward for a position.

Kelly Fliedner 22:22

Kiera Brew Kurec 22:23
I think there’s a lot to be said to always been, like, nice and open to having conversations with whoever you’re having conversation with. Because, you never know what that conversation could lead to.

Kelly Fliedner 22:34
Yeah, and also, like, just try your best always, like, I know that, that is such a kind of subjective way to think about the things that we make, because like, obviously, some people are not going to be into your work and other people are. But having, like, just putting 100% in to all of the things that you do, really helps, I think, because you just don’t know how that’s gonna affect like future opportunities. And even if something feels like really insignificant, like prepare for it, like put your like, give 100%.

Nick Breedon 23:16
some of the other guests have talked at length about the importance of kind of being friends with everyone that you meet, and you know, not not instrumentalizing your relationships, but just showing up being yourself being really nice to everyone.

Kelly Fliedner 23:35
Yeah, I think it’s important to say like, yeah, don’t like instrumentalize everything. I’m not saying that because there’s nothing like more distasteful than people who are like, totally just aggressively networking. It’s just too much. All those people that are on Instagram, telling everyone constantly about all the things they’re always doing. Ah, it’s too much. It’s like, chill out. We get it. You’re doing some cool shit. (laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 24:10
So you already kind of mentioned with not being able to focus so much on your creative practice when you’re at West Space. But has there been any other kind of challenges that you have had to overcome to continue your creative practice or any other areas of your practice?

Kelly Fliedner 24:35
I yeah of course, like everyone has day to day challenges. Do you know what, though, like, I kind of was talking before about West Space, that time at West Space being like the first part of my career. And when you work at a place like West Space, you’re working with so many different artists and It was the first place that like people knew me. And they knew me as like Kelly, who’s a curator at West Space. Um, and actually being a curator wasn’t necessarily something that I wanted to do. Like, I love curating exhibitions and working with artists, like, I love that more than anything. But it also, I was far more of a bookish person, like I had always been a book person. And I knew that I wanted to be a writer more than I wanted to be a curator. And actually, it was difficult because people make constantly want to put you in a box. And after I left West Space, people just email me and be like, do you want this curatorial job or this arts admin job, or I would put you forward for this if you want. And that sounds like amazing, like all these opportunities, but it just, I just didn’t want to do that. Like, I wanted to focus on my writing. And I wanted to, I wanted to read more, and I wanted to go back to art history. And so it definitely took a while, I think, to kind of break away from that, and I think actually had to leave Melbourne, for people to realize that I wasn’t like a curator that I’m like, more of a writer than a curator or, um, yeah, and I guess, because I’ve been working at West Space for so long. And it was such a large workload. I hadn’t, I hadn’t spent I had spent years not thinking about theory, or art history, or writing in the way that I probably wanted to. And so it did take a little while to kind of get back into that groove. And like kind of refocus myself. But I guess that’s not a challenge. And I’m really happy that I have all of that experience at that those institutions, because it’s still, it means that I always have something to kind of, I, I always have like something to work on. Because it’s quite easy. I it’s quite easy, I think to find work as an arts administrator, comparative to like an artist or writer. And so I’ll always be thankful for all of that experience, because it means that I can still kind of be in the arts world without having to stress out about like money. Having said that, I haven’t like been an arts administrator for quite a while now. But um, you know, like, I’m constantly kind of getting asked to do things in that kind of sphere. And so it’s always good to have that, like career path opportunity.

Kiera Brew Kurec 27:35
And, of course, all the contacts and the friendships that you build within those spaces and those experiences.

Kelly Fliedner 27:41
Oh, my God, yeah. Like, there are people that I met at West Space. You know, like I said, before like Phip Murray you know, she’s like, genuinely one of my best favourite people in the whole world. And I love her and I love like, she’s constantly someone that I can kind of ask advice and help for people like Veronica Kent, or Brad Haylock, Stewart Getties, who were on the board of West Space when I was a staff member there who were like, so incredibly supportive, and are amazing practitioners in their own part. And so when you’re in a place like that, you have all these amazing people around you. The opportunities that you can see that there are all these opportunities, because there are all these people around you who have had them who have like, done those things. It doesn’t feel like a huge leap. So yeah.

Nick Breedon 28:37
So when you talked a little bit about how, you know, you want to focus more on your writing and getting away from that more administrative or curatorial role? What does having a successful practice look like?

Kelly Fliedner 28:56
Um, that’s a hard question, too. Because I guess like, a successful practice, is just a practice that’s happening, um, that you’re doing stuff that I guess I’m reading every day, writing every day, having conversations every day with people that you love, and who are like, generative, you know, like generative, creative conversations with people every day. Like that’s, that’s like, that’s the aim. Um, you know, hanging out with people working on projects. I love working on big projects, like the thing. You know, when I went to India, and I worked with Kochi-Muziris Biennale I wrote the biennale’s catalogue. And it’s quite unusual for a writer to get an opportunity like that because catalogues for being biennale’s are often written by like multiple people, they’ll have like a whole curatorial team or, or a communications team that is working on the one publication. Obviously, because it’s a really big project to do, and it’s easier if a bunch of people do it. But it is an amazing opportunity to get to like, sit down and work on one massive writing project, for one project, you know, so I wrote like, 60,000 words and researched that in a space of like four months, so it’s like a crazy kind of workload, but it was so such an enjoyable process to kind of sit down and work on something so big. And I had never done that before. And then that’s what I want to do now. Like, I don’t want to work on like, small projects anymore. I just want to work on like, big projects. And that’s why I’m doing a PhD because I was like, how can I,

Kiera Brew Kurec 30:51
I was gonna say the biggest project of all.

Kelly Fliedner 30:55
Yeah, so it just made sense for me when I came back, that that would be like the next step, because it’s very rare that you get an opportunity like that with an arts organization. Although, hopefully, down the track. I can kind of like replicate that in some kind of way somewhere. But yeah, I guess it’s like working on big book projects. It’s like the thing that I want to do.

Nick Breedon 31:19
Can you can you talk a little bit about. I’m really interested. You know, you’re talking before about leaving Melbourne And, you know, the Sydney, Melbourne kind of community arts community very insular. Can you maybe talk a little bit about why Perth was such a draw for you? Because I think I think maybe it wouldn’t be such an obvious destination for some people.

Kelly Fliedner 31:52
To be honest, we are here because Robbie’s family here, so Robbie, who my partner that I mentioned before, he grew up in Perth, we met each other in Melbourne, just before I left Melbourne, and we left Melbourne together. And then lived overseas for a few years together in India, part of that time and in New York part of that time. And then we were kind of we were like, Okay, let’s go back to Australia. And where do we go? And we were thinking about lots of different places, like I was genuinely thinking about like starting a PhD in Canberra. So we were thinking, maybe we could move to Canberra, that would be cool. And then he just was like, well, why don’t we just go back to Perth for a little while and like, see how that works because his family are here. And that’s like, really a fun kind of proposition because I’ve never really spent very much time in W.A. And it’s genuinely an interesting place. I think in the East Coast, or the you know, growing up Victoria or Sydney or, you know, anywhere on that kind of the eastern seaboard. Our understanding of Australian history is really skewed to that kind of part of the country. And so just spending time in W.A actually just spending time out of Australia, like in India and realizing that there’s this whole other art world going on that is very outside of the silo of the Melbourne art world. Um, I really just loved that. And I loved kind of like learning about different histories and stuff. And you know, W.A has an amazing history, like, kind of para colonial history before the British were here. And, and obviously, there is this incredible, like indigenous history here that you just don’t know, if you don’t come and hang out here and like, talk to Aboriginal people and be on country and kind of learn different stories. And so it’s just been really great, like, getting to know, a different part of Australia and a different part of Australia’s history. And yeah, I’m really lucky because I just got asked to work on a project for an organization called Tura new music, which is, which is an experimental music organization. And they’re gonna fly me up north to a bunch of art centers to work on projects with community and so that just wouldn’t never have happened if I was in Victoria. And so for these, like really fun projects that I find, like really exciting and nourishing, you just kind of have to like leave your comfort zone.

Nick Breedon 34:36
So many great artists in Perth too.

Kelly Fliedner 34:38
Yes, we there is! Yeah, there’s lots of really great stuff happening here. It’s definitely a smaller same so it doesn’t feel and the community definitely has a different relationship with art than I know like Melbourne does. Um, Melbourne’s art ecosystem is far more diverse. But that’s not to say that there’s not amazing stuff happening here. And I’ve been really lucky to make some really good relationships with artists here. And it feels like a really good place for me at the moment.

Kiera Brew Kurec 35:13
So, can you give us a bit of a rundown of what a day or a week in the life of Kelly Fliedner doing PhD and living in Perth looks like at the moment?

Kelly Fliedner 35:22
Oh, my God,

Kiera Brew Kurec 35:22
I already asked you what you ate for breakfast. But you can tell us again, if you want to.

Kelly Fliedner 35:28
I’m like, not very structured person at all. Um, so it just depends what I’m focusing on. Like, if I have, if I, if I’m teaching that day, I’m probably waking up really early and preparing for that. Or if I have a lecture later in the week, I’m probably writing that in late hours of the night or, you know, like I said, I have this project with Tura new music later this year. And I need to write a catalogue for that. So maybe one day I’ll be working on that. And then the next day, I’ll be working on my PhD or whatever. I don’t know. It just depends.

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:09
Do you have a designated space that you write from?

Kelly Fliedner 36:12
Or at the moment, I have, like a little writing area in the house that we’re living in. But I also recently got an office at UWA so right. Yeah, so I’m like, half the time at UWA and then half the time at home .Yeah.

Nick Breedon 36:28
So do you kind of chop your day into, I mean, you kind of just touched on it then. But um, do you spend like, sort of majority of your day writing then?

Kelly Fliedner 36:38
Um, no, no, I didn’t know. Like, it just depends, like, um, I spend a lot of time reading, like, I actually read a lot. And I find that, you know, like, I could be reading anything from like, you know, like Sally Rooney’s latest novel to Ben Lerner to like Chris Kraus to Maggie Nelson to like more art theory stuff, or literary, I read a lot of literary theory to it, which is informing my PhD as well. So I read a lot, and I write a lot. Yeah, reading writing, I try not to spend too much time on the email. You know, like, try not to do too much admin.

Nick Breedon 37:22
Yeah. Do you have certain limits in place? Or do you just sort of like, try and smash out what you can every day and just get it out of the way?

Kelly Fliedner 37:31
No, I don’t have any hard or fast rules. I find I don’t work like that. I’m a bit more like, boom, bust. Like the boom is like right before the deadline. And then the bust is like, I’m exhausted after working 16 hour days for a week. But um, yeah, I’m not prescriptive about this.

Nick Breedon 37:50
it’s very interesting. I think emails has come up in every single one of our shows.

Kelly Fliedner 37:57
Yeah. I try not to look at emails, particularly in the morning, because I find my mornings are like, the most creative moment for me. And if I like start listening to a podcast, or if I like, turn the news on, or if I start looking at emails, it’s like, my creative brain is done for the day. So I really have to like, not think about any of that stuff for as long as possible. Yeah, just like push all of that stuff further into the day as possible.

Kiera Brew Kurec 38:25
Just on that. With the mornings being the most creative and productive time. I’m the same. But I’m just being privy to some information like over the years of being a friend with you, about you getting up really early in the morning to work.

Nick Breedon 38:43
I would say night time, actually. (Laughter)

Kelly Fliedner 38:47
Yeah, a lot of people are shocked when they hear how early I wake up sometimes. So if I say, Okay, this is like, I know, it sounds crazy, but like, I’ll often wake up at like, 3am to start writing.

Kiera Brew Kurec 39:02
And what time do you go to bed?

Kelly Fliedner 39:05
Like nine, I guess. Like if that’s if that’s like, my current routine. Yeah. Like, I’ll probably go to bed at 9 or 10 and wake up at 3. Um, and I just I know, that sounds crazy to people because some people were like, Oh, I had to wake up at like, seven. I’m like, bitch that’s a sleep in. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s just yeah, it’s just how my brain works for some reason.

Nick Breedon 39:32
Do you do you sort of counteract that with having like a sleep later in the day?

Kelly Fliedner 39:38
No I just, I guess I don’t need that much sleep comparative. Some people like I have to get my 8 hours. Apparently, that’s most people, but I just um yeah, I look I’m pretty useless after like, five. I’m done for the day gets to the afternoon. And I’m like, Eric a time for the emails time for the easy work. Yeah. It’s just that kind of like, really quiet morning time that is just really perfect.

Nick Breedon 40:19
I mean, I definitely enjoy working in the mornings too. But we’re talking more like, you know, six or seven. Do you find it to be even more so free of distraction? Because there’s, you know, there’s not really anyone driving on the roads, there’s a kind of quietness, like all the animals are quiet. Is there something about the kind of like, night time, I guess that that you find that helps you kind of focus more?

Kelly Fliedner 40:50
Yeah, I think it’s two things. It’s like a love of being dark. Like, I love the night time darkness. I think that that really helps with like focusing, or something. I’m not quite sure what the psychology around that is. But it’s also like being really fresh. And so it’s not like I’m very good at like staying up all day, and then working late into the night. Although I do do that sometimes. Like if I’m panicking about like, giving a lecture the next day, and I’m like, Oh, I’m just gonna, like do these slides or something like I will stay up late. But it’s not like my best creative working time. So it’s like a combination of being rested, but also being dark. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 41:30
Very interesting. Um, so what what have been some of the biggest resources that have kind of assisted you along the way that you would want to share with, you know, someone that might be just starting out in their career,

Kelly Fliedner 41:48
um, friends, like your people that you go to school with. And I don’t mean like that you are mining your friends of resources or energy. But I mean, I genuinely think that it’s like the conversations that I have with people that are the most useful things. And I’ve never been someone who is that interested in, like working up in my career in in like, finding someone more senior and wanting to work collaboratively with those people, although like, when that happens, it’s great. I’ve always been someone who loved working with my like cohort, or your peers, like the people that are your age that are thinking about things. Not exactly my age, but like, you know, that kind of moment, a similar moment in their careers or, yeah, so people like Rowan, who I worked on the journal with, who’s a really good friend of mine. We just have amazing conversations all the time. And that really helps me to kind of focus in on the things that I’m interested in the politics that I’m interested in the theory that I’m interested in, or you guys or Patrice Sharkey, who is now at shit what’s that gallery called? ACE in Adelaide?

Yeah, it’s ACE open.

Um, Patrice is a wonderful person to just like bash around ideas with or, you know, Cherie Schweitzer or Sarah Werkmeister. You know what I mean, like people that are, those are the best resources. But having said that, good to get a good grant every now and then. Yeah. And use arts organizations like Next Wave was probably one of the best experiences of my life as a young practitioner. Yeah, so really use those organizations that nurture emerging practitioners, Next Wave, Un magazine, Runway in Sydney. Because you’re only emerging for so long, so you have to kind of use those opportunities when you can. Yeah.

Kiera Brew Kurec 44:08
Yeah. And they’re there for you.

Kelly Fliedner 44:10
Yeah. And that we’re all really lucky that they’re there for us. So yeah.

Kiera Brew Kurec 44:17
They’re great. Um, is there any advice that you would have liked to have received when you were at uni, or when you first stepped into the office at West Space when you’re volunteering?

Kelly Fliedner 44:34
I think that I was really unnecessarily stressed about being an imposter for a really long time. Like, just a really long time, like worried that people thought I was a dummy or something. And it’s just takes up way too much energy. And it’s like, also, just not true. Like, everyone’s doing their own thing and working on their own projects. And so you should just put in the time, do the work, do good work and like don’t stress out about all of the other, like anxiety kind of stuff that oscillates around you being like nervous about your place in the art world.

Kiera Brew Kurec 45:16
Do you have any tips to how to deal with that.

Nick Breedon 45:21
Yeah, that would be really helpful

Kelly Fliedner 45:22
It took me like a really long time, hey, um, like, I, I did a master’s in art history. And I remember just having this like panic attack about handing in my thesis. And I just, I literally thought it was like, the worst thing in the world, I thought I was like, gonna fail. And so I sat on it for like, a year before I even handed it in. And then I handed it in, and I got like an H1. And everyone was like, really stoked about it. And I got like, the best comments back and I think that was like, the first moment where I was like, do you know what? I’m okay, like I can do this. And so it took a really long time. And just working, and having patience and experience and also like, really trusting the people around you. Because you’re not like, just putting work out into the world, completely autonomous to anything else. Like you’re usually working in teams. If you’ve been given an exhibition somewhere, trust that the people who have given you the exhibition, have faith and know what they’re doing and have chosen you for a particular reason.

Nick Breedon 46:33
They want you to succeed.

Kelly Fliedner 46:35
Yes, exactly. Everyone wants you to like, do well, because it’s not just you. So I think like maybe, maybe it’s like, getting outside your own head. And like seeing that you’re like, one kind of part in like a whole ecosystem, that it’s not just about you, and then it takes the pressure off. And you can feel a bit better about yourself.

Kiera Brew Kurec 46:58
That’s some great advice I’m gonna listen back to that Kelly.

Nick Breedon 47:01
Yeah that’s really good.

Kelly Fliedner 47:04
Oh, God. But everyone has imposter syndrome I think. It’s annoying to me when people are like to confident (laughter)

Nick Breedon 47:18
Yeah, well, there’s no there’s no top, you know, so it’s like even even the most successful person / artists / working in the arts, anyone in any industry really is gonna have some level of, you know, feeling like a fraud or like they’re not, they can’t do it or not, but not being good enough, because there’s always somebody above them, or there’s somewhere else that they always will want to aspire to be. That’s not where they are now. So, yeah, maybe good to remember that everybody’s probably feeling feeling less than, which is

Kelly Fliedner 47:57
Yeah, and everyone’s insecurities manifest in really different ways to like, maybe in overconfidence,

Kiera Brew Kurec 48:07

Kelly Fliedner 48:08
I think it’s just having a little bit of like patience, and like being conscious that other people are like nervous about being in the world, and presenting their art and like, just being kind to other people, too.

Kiera Brew Kurec 48:25

Nick Breedon 48:26
Well, that’s a really lovely note to end on I think be kind to everyone. Thanks so much for joining us today, Kelly. It’s been a pleasure.

Kelly Fliedner 48:37
Thanks for having me.

Nick Breedon 48:44
This episode is recorded on the sovereign Land of the Kulin nation, we acknowledge the traditional owners of the land the Wurundjeri people and pay respects to elder’s past, present and emerging.

Kiera Brew Kurec 48:57
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac. You can listen to other episodes and subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can stay up to date with what we’re up to on Instagram @propracpodcast, or send us an email at