Georgia Banks’ works begin with an invitation and a provocation. Sometimes they are met with an overwhelming response, sometimes no one answers at all. She does not value either of these outcomes over the other.
In recent years she has been banned from Tinder, sued by the estate of Hannah Wilke, and awarded Miss Social Impact in a national beauty pageant. She would like to go viral, become a reality TV star, and be inaugurated into the Guinness World Records Hall of Fame. She has never had a filling nor broken a bone (although she has been crucified) and once was convinced she had accidentally sliced away a part of her labia during a performance (she hadn’t).
Georgia Banks is a current studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, and she completed a Masters of Fine Arts (Research) at the Victoria College of the Arts in 2015.
How do you describe your work to others?
Funnily enough I think describing my work has became a huge part of my work. A lot of my recent performances have been so heavily based in experience, which can be difficult to quantify in a work on walls kinda way, so talking to people about what I’m doing or what I’ve done — how it felt, what was unexpected, how people responded — has almost become an outcome of my practice, maybe even my favourite outcome.
How do you begin new work?
With a curiosity really.
I wonder what would if … what would people do when … what would it feel like to …
Do you tend to work in series or do you see your body of work as a continuation?
Both? I’d say there’s a clear BREAK in my practice between the singular, physical performances and the social performances but really both are explorations of power and agency, they’re both endurance based and push the boundaries of human experience. Straight up I’d say competing in beauty pageants required more physical and mental strength than being crucified!
What do you use as reference material?
Do you work intuitively or more consciously?
Oh intuitively. A friend of mine actually said recently that all my work is based on hunches, which I have to say is accurate. Sometimes those hunches are gold and sometimes they’re a bloody fools errand and I don’t know which is which until they’ve already happened in the public realm, which is fun.
What’s your favourite colour to work with?
It used to be red – of course – and now it’s pink. And pink is really just red with some light in it which actually sums up my life and practice pretty concisely!
Where do you create?
Everywhere! Especially now, coming straight out of a performance where I wore the same shirt for a year, into a year of competing in pageants, straight up wherever I go I’m making art. I’m a walking talking interactive artwork.
Do you have a studio ritual to start the session?
As in procrastination haha? I only moved into my studio a few months ago and I have to say before I do any work I walk around the building and talk to whoever is in. I don’t think everyone loves this about me, I acknowledge that, but I love a good yarn! So I guess my studio ritual is disrupting everyone else’s studio rituals? If you’d like to come visit me in my studio for a chat, I’m sure the other residents would enjoy a reprieve.
What’s your favourite music to work to?
I’m going to share some very serious life advice here — no matter how old you are or where you’re at in life if you play Untouched by The Veronica’s you will Get. It. Done.
Do you enjoy coming up with titles?
I do! As far back as I can remember though I’ve always sort of felt like I’m borrowing titles – because I did re-enactment for so long my work titles were always connected to the name of the original work, and then all my other titles seem to be taken from texts or be popular culture references. But I think that’s great because you’re tapping your work into a greater pre-existing dialogue or cultural context.
What advice would you give to your emerging self?
I’d tell her to not take so much shit from dickhead male academics that think because she’s making work about sexuality that must mean she wants to have sex with their crusty arses.
Have you ever worked with a mentor?
I was lucky enough to be a part of the Midsumma Futures crew 2018 and work with my mentor Chris Kraus for a year which was insane – it’s a program I can’t recommend highly enough.
I also have a lot of what I call friendtors which are friend relationships where we mentor each other depending on where we’re at in life. They’re basically just friendships with other artists really but I gave it a cool name (depending on your definition of cool).
How do you alleviate the down times?
I don’t haha. I embrace them and go full misery worm. Sometimes feeling shit about yourself is an important part of a process, no one thinks they’re the tits every minute of every day, working with self doubt and mood swings and mental health issues is all AOK. But also fried food helps.
What defining moments have you experienced within your practice?
I think the most defining moment of my career was when I stopped asking and waiting for permission to make work and just went f*ck it let’s do this. If you’ve got something to say find a way to say it, don’t worry about anyone else.
If you could ask any artist any question, what would it be?
Well I’m a messy bitch who loves drama so I’d 100% bring Ana Mendieta back to life and ask her if Carl Andre pushed her out that window. We need to know!
What does the future hold for you?
Short term I’m lucky to be in the Gertrude studios for the next two years, where I’ll be making very serious important work like trying to break the Guinness World Record for the longest livestream, and auditioning for reality TV dating shows.
Long term, death probably. Well definitely. So yeah, death. I spend a lot of time thinking about the work I’d like to make posthumously. I’ve got big plans!