23rd Key – ‘Keezus’

Melbourne based 23rd Key’s solo show ‘Keezus’ opens next week at Juddy Roller in Melbourne. She took time with Damo to give us the low down on the show.

DW: Tell us more about your upcoming show at Juddy Roller. What is the concept behind it?

23rd Key: The concept behind the show is ‘ego’. I’ve tried to dissect the medium and showcase it in a way that I’ve never seen any one else do it before. It’s about what it is to be a stencil artist and the inner battle we have with who we are, who we are perceived to be, and how the two differ. I feel like there can be a real distance between the artist and the ‘audience’ when it comes to art and exhibitions. With Keezus, the theme is one that’s very close to home for me but I also wanted to do something really different with how things are displayed. I really want to bridge the gap with this show, hopefully anyone who comes to see it will walk away understanding a little bit more about stencil art and have seen it like it’s never been seen before.

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DW: How have you explored the concept of ego through the stencil art process?

23rd Key: I think art can be pretty self indulgent at times…a lot of the work I’ve been creating over the past year has been dealing with that idea of how we see ourselves and how others see us and my experiences with being a stencil artist. The theme actually developed quite naturally. I had created about 3 works in a row that had this similar theme and I just thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have a whole show based around ego. I think it’s a really relate-able topic that people will hopefully really love.

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DW: A show exploring ego, called ‘Keezus’. How much influence would you say Mr. West has had on you and the show?

23rd Key: Well I have been listening to a lot of Yeezy…I’m not sure what came first…the listening to Yeezy or the show idea. I definitely don’t think I could have possibly picked a better name for it and I am a fan of his music, so I guess it’s fairly win-win. The whole idea of Kanye and how he puts himself out into the media is something a lot of people are fascinated with and I definitely think our culture is a big factor. When I first visited the USA I found the people there were really self-assured and confident, and I found that really comforting. I think Australians have more of a tendency to be quiet achievers. The social stigmas different societies have about ‘how you should behave’ and their expectations are hard not to be influenced by. I find that really fascinating, fascinating enough to create a whole body of work about it, I guess you could say.

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DW: How much time would you say you’ve spent on the preparation for the show? What’s driven you to complete it?

23rd Key: I’ve been building towards ‘Keezus’ for a little over a year now. I think finally getting the chance to make all these works and develop a show that I’ve had the concept for for over a year now has definitely been a strong driving force, I got to a point where I was like, I have to make sure I do it by the end of the year or it might just never happen. I think when you’re constantly pushing yourself and you create this whole body of work..how you feel when you create the first work and how you feel when you create the last..so much has happened and changed even within that time period, that it’s hard not to just want to work on something new. I feel like a lot of the works I’d created had a similar thing to say and I knew they’d make a really powerful show. I’ve put a lot into it, and I’m pretty excited, I’ve done some crazy stuff and invested in a lot of things to make it stand out from any stencil art show I’ve ever been to and I want the people who see it to really take something away.

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DW: It’s been a big year for you, of what achievement are you proudest so far?

23rd Key: It’s definitely hard to pick, I always wanted to be a part of Project 5 because of what it stands for (being a charity event that puts a lot back into the community) and also because of the caliber of artists involved every year. But I also never thought I’d win the stencil art prize once let alone twice. It’s nice, I feel spoiled for options trying to pick my proudest achievement, I guess that’s almost an achievement in itself.

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DW: What makes you laugh / pisses you off?

23rd Key: Haha..This could be extensive.. So I’ll answer how it’s asked, one for one; Bill Hicks/when someone points out something on a computer screen and touches the screen with their finger.

DW: What words of wisdom do you have for someone who is trying to get into the industry?

23rd Key: That’s definitely a hard question…the journey everyone has with their artistic career can be really different, person to person. But I’d have to say my main piece of advice would be to believe in yourself, because if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will. I think that’s a really hard thing for a lot of artists, maintaining a balance and keeping faith. It won’t always be easy but the love you have for it will get you through.

DW: You’ve been busy this year.. What next??

23rd Key: I’ve already locked in a Europe Spraycation mid/early next year, which is exciting. I’ve got a few projects planned between now and then, time is definitely filling up quick. I’ve still got a few great surprises up my sleeves before I head off to take Europe by storm though.

@23rdkey