Rosabel Tan

What kind of art have you turned to in this past year?

I don't know if I've turned to art, but it's definitely been there to catch me. Honestly, anything and everything. I've sought comfort in the familiar. I've treasured the work that gives me hope, but have equally been fuelled by the work that has lost it. I rewatched lots of dumb TV. I've spent a lot a lot a lot of time on Tiktok. I've loved seeing alternative models for how life could be. Tū Toi Ora and Whānau Mārama left me awe-struck and electrified. I've loved the amazingly portrayed, painfully awkward, hilarious and wretched moments in books like Luster, Real Life, Obit, Minor Feelings and The Office of Historical Corrections. I'm inspired by the artists I've been working with, who are carving space for new conversations. I'm screeching every moment of Succession.

Photo Credit: Ankita Singh

What has changed in your perspective towards your work?

Damn this year has been a ride. Satellites lost its core funding last year. Did I mention that in our interview? So in between working on a few individually-commissioned projects, it's been a period of retreat and reflection.

On a bad day I'd say I lost a lot of confidence in myself this past year, and there were multiple times when I thought about giving up, switching careers, playing it safe. I was telling someone about my year the other day and burst into tears, which was a bit embarrassing because it was a professional interview.

But lately most days are good days, and I feel really lucky to be surrounded by such a supportive community: by people who inspire me, challenge me, nurture me. I was thinking this morning there's a real sense of it being spring: after the turbulence of this past year, it's refreshing to be thinking about new projects. There's a sense of reinvention and hope in the air.

What's changed? That's a TBC. I'm trying to go slower, to act with deeper intentionality, and to make each project I work on a microcosm of a dreamt future. Part of that means figuring out a better work-life balance, but in an industry that's chronically under-resourced and which consistently allows its independent artists to be the first ones off the cliff,.... It's bad math. I've been thinking about the way our sector profits from burn-out and how that needs to change, and I've been working through the ways that my own practices reinforce a culture that sits counter to what I want to see. It's a work in progress.

Is there a particular moment this year that you remember?

Like the stranded island scenario, if you knew you were going to be in isolation, what are 3 things you would have planned to have with you?

My phone, my laptop, and my slow cooker.

How did you keep in touch with your peers during isolation/did you?

A lot of facetimes, a lot of Netflix parties, a lot of games. A lot of mutual understanding that sometimes it will take minutes to reply to a text, and other times days or weeks (mostly the latter, sorry to my friends).

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