Endless T Bottles and Trans Judas Anti-Standard #30 with Curator & Artist Sam Kariotis

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Happy New Anti-Standard to all who celebrate! This week we spoke to Hermit, Artist, Vampire Sam Kariotis, a Melbourne-based artist and curator with influences in religion and gender, Sam creates…actually his artist statement is like really good and we could never paraphrase it so read on here!!!!

Or here because we know you didn’t click:

“Currently based in Melbourne/Naarm’s south east, Sam Kariotis is a multi-disciplinary artist combining forms of digital collage with projection, installation, and sound work.
His work reimagines classical Baroque paintings exploring themes of magic, sexuality, and the unconscious, and aims to bring intuitive processes into the mediums of collage and installation. Creating intimate encounters with the trans body, he summons viewers to witness a nuanced and highly personal depiction of his relationship between western Catholicism and gender.
He is a curator and program manager at Connection Arts Space in Dandenong where he co-managed ‘In Fluidity we Trust’, a monthly program dedicated to the intersection between the LGBT+ Community and the art world throughout history.”

As we are publishing this from the United States of America, it does not go unnoticed the anti-trans legislation trying to be passed in many states across the country.

Trans artists, readers please take care of yourselves, surround yourself with your community at this time. These legislations are coming from a place of fear. Who you are is a triumphant act of love and self acceptance.

We are sending love to all who are reading. Enjoy this interview, and keep creating.

U: What is it like being a Curator and a Maker ?

SK: It’s an interesting beast honestly! I love curating group or solo shows while also making work in my own practice because it shows both sides of the coin so to speak. I definitely think they’re separate facets of my art brain, but I love them both equally. It’s definitely made doing exhibitions easier, since I now know all the information the curators would need and can send it in one go. I love connecting with new artists through curating as well, since my own practice tends to be pretty solitary.

U: How do you choose/Where do you gather materials for your collages?

SK: It varies, when I’m on a digital art kick I’m finding high quality scans of baroque/modernist paintings online as well as royalty free stock images when I need them, but with traditional collage (what I’ve been doing more of now), I photocopy library books, scrounge magazines from work and the recycling pile, and sometimes use random posters or flyers I find out and about. In terms of actual imagery, I’m a massive fan of baroque works due to their strong composition and lighting (can you tell I’m a Caravaggio fanboy lol). In terms of text or lettering, I look for any interesting sizes or fonts.

U: Are they sentimental? Do you go looking for a specific thing ?

SK: A lot of my work starts out as intuitive, or with a single phrase or image in mind, but not all of them are sentimental! A lot of them relate to my personal experience with gender or faith, but a lot of my work tackles sexuality which I guess can be sentimental if you think about it! Essentially, I’m on the lookout for anything 15th century, dramatic, and a little horny.

U: How do you feel your art has changed over time as you have? 

SK: My art has changed immensely in the last 5 years! Especially transitioning and getting on testosterone hormones 3 months after graduating high school while I was in my first year of art school, it was an immense period of change. Even if we’re just talking about mediums, I went from etching and printmaking in high school, to sculpture/installation/mixed media collage and back and forth for around 3 years before settling on the multidisciplinary label I’m using now. My three years in my bachelor were a great ‘fuck around and find out’ period for my practice, and my honours year really solidified the underlying themes and medium in my works.  I feel like I got a lot of the really angsty dysphoria art out of my system in the first year or so of really experimenting with my art practice, and I’d like to think that my work is a lot more nuanced now, less in your face and surface level.

U: How has your Trans Experience influenced your art? 

SK: Massively, first of all haha. Like I mentioned earlier, my practice really took shape while I was essentially going through second puberty. A lot of my work is directly tied to my gender and experience as a trans man, whether that be overtly with my recent sculpture series, or more metaphorically through my exploration of the Trans Jesus figure. That being said, as a white, cis passing able bodied trans man I do hold an immense amount of privilege, not just in our wider society but also in the LGBT community, and even the fact that I was able to go to art school is a privilege. 

U: Love your T bottle series ! Do you imagine them in conversation/ think of them as one continuous piece or as stand alones?

SK: I feel like they work well separately or as stand alone pieces, but I did actually start them as a series/currently ongoing conversation! I have a list of materials I want to try and make casts of, and as far as I’m concerned the series only ends when I run out of ideas. As of right now it hasn’t got an end point!

U: Let’s Talk Catholic Guilt! What draws you to that/ Interesting that iconography is a focus esp. As the t bottle becomes its own sort of rosary.

SK: I went to a private Catholic all girls school for 13 years, and came out in my last few years there. Due to the school’s structure, I also went to mass every fortnight for those 13 years, so even if my family wasn’t particularly religious it planted roots in me. I think i’ve always been drawn to larger than lo9fe grandiose expressions of emotions, even when i watched moulin rouge as a kid, so the catholic tendency to sanctify suffering and religious ecstasy goes hand in hand with hedonistic tendencies and motifs that appear in my artworks. It’s funny you mention the t bottle as a rosary because I did in fact make one into a rosary for a show last year!

U: What is it like/ how do you decide between digital and material collages?

SK: It’s mostly a matter of convenience honestly. When lockdown was in full swing in my third year of my BFA I thought it would be a lot cheaper and more efficient to work solely on my laptop and delved deep into photoshop, cobbling together my own methods of making the collages how I wanted. Right now, I’m in between working laptops and am getting back into traditional/material collage, which has been really fun! It’s been nice to be able to hold my work without having to print anything.

U: How do they differ (feelings/ process wise) FOR YOU?

SK: Process wise, they are both similar in the sense that I approach them intuitively, with no set plan or composition in mind. I find with digital collages I gravitate more towards wearing headphones, blasting a specific song that inspires me in repeat (typically hyperpop or metal these days), and almost going into a trance state as I work. While I haven’t done it in a while, I used to drink a bit in order to open myself up and let go of any conscious decision making, then edit the works when I was more sober. It’s not something I’d do regularly, but it was a fun experience! Traditional or material collages require slightly more planning just because of the difference in medium. If I want to use text I have to plan the composition around that, then locate, cut out and arrange the letters one by one. I still can easily play around with compositions, but in general I find them slightly more meditative of a process.

U: What do you believe is the most important takeaway from your art? 

SK: That this is basically my diary in a visual medium. Especially when I create installations or shrines, I’m making something that is only really for myself and other trans people to fully understand. Even then, the trans community is not a monolith, and I want to carve out my little sector to explore my relationship to my gender, faith/lack thereof to various systems, catholic imagery and fetish iconography. While cis people may take away new understandings, I am ultimately not acting as a space to educate but rather to just metaphorically flay a part of myself for presentation and hope it resonates with someone else.

U: How has your work within Connection Art Space informed your own practice? 

SK: My work with Connection Art Space has been maybe the most valuable experience I’ve had in my practice/career since going to art school. While my 4 years at RMIT made me solidify my own personal practice, working with a community arts organization such as CAS has really made me value the arts scene in the south east. It’s just as vibrant and creative and thriving as the inner city galleries, and deserves just as much recognition and praise. It;’s one of the spaces that truly made me realize I wanted to be a curator and work within the arts scene outside of my own practice, since it’s primarily volunteer based. The sense of family and connection is really heartwarming, and I’ve made so many professional networks but also just genuinely amazing and talented friends through working with CAS over the last 3 years or so. As well as this, being a volunteer curator, program manager, and assistant workshop facilitator has given me invaluable experience and skills I’m planning to expand on this year with further study to eventually achieve my goal of working in an art gallery full time as a curator/manager.

U: What’s something you’re looking forward to in your practice this year? 

SK: In my artistic practice I’m looking forward to more long term sculpture plans (as soon as the weather cools down i’m planning on growing some mushrooms!), and seeing what group or solo exhibitions I can worm my way into and experience my work in different locations. In my professional practice I’m going back to uni/college after a year break, and studying a graduate diploma of arts and cultural management, which I’m super excited for!

U: What does the idea of “you’re going to make something great” mean to you? 

SK: I think it means that it doesn’t matter how frequently you’re making, the fact that you’re putting effort into work shows that you care about your artistic practice. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every month, but as long as you’re creating or planning you’ll make something great.




thank you for supporting UG2MSG and local artists by reading and sharing this post.

if you’d like to be interviewed for UG2MSG please DM us on Instagram or shoot us an email at ug2msg@gmail.com

(not sure why the heart is huge this time, sending love to all you artists doing what you do an keeping creativity alive)

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