Hanging Out With Mad Talented Artist Kiri-Una Brito Meumann
Melbourne-based, Brazilian-born artist Kiri-Una Brito Meumann, casually known as Kiri, reckons she's lazy and relaxed deep down. Relatable. She also flew to New York a while back to install work in A$AP Rocky's house in-between uni semesters. Less relatable.
Working with large-scale sculptures that examine the impact of technology and ~life on the internet~, Kiri is all about marrying the spatial with the conceptual. She also happens to be good at the world wide web and has one of the most fomo-inducing Instagram feeds we've seen in a while. We visited Kiri at her house in Melbourne recently to chat about her surreal success, the A$AP thing and kids these days.
Lucy Jones: Where did you grow up and where are you living now?
Kiri-Una Brito Meumann: I've grown up living mostly in Melbourne, Australia. For some years when I was young I lived in Salvador in Brazil. I'm currently living in Melbourne.
How did those places shape you and/or your work?
I'm not sure how they've directly shaped me, but I do feel very much Bahiana — this is a term the rest of Brazil call people from Bahia. It's a stereotype for being the lazy relaxed people of Brazil, all about music and fun times. Haha! I guess in some ways I really feel this is relevant to me.
What were you like in high school?
I went through lots of embarrassing phases early on to be honest. Towards the end of high school, in around year 11 and 12, I think I was past all the phases and was just being myself. I guess school stopped being about socialising and became more about doing what I wanted. So I would go to school just to go to class. My life outside of class was hanging out with friends who had all already finished high school and were at uni.
In what ways have you changed since then?
Maybe now I'm more clear on who I am. I probably dress better too, haha.
What kind of values/beliefs did your parents install in you?
What characteristics define your generation?
Our generation is crazzyyyy! Haha. It's all about me, me, me. Everyone is their own brand now. This new wave of self-promotion — to create ourselves as a brand weather we are trying to or not — it's happening.
What are the best and worst things about growing up "on the internet"?
I have such a love-hate relationship with it. It's so amazing for being able to access so much from everywhere in the world, and showcase my work for everyone in the world to see. However, I hate it at the same time because I really am so consumed by it. It's everywhere I go — everything revolves around devices that link us to this "other world". It can be really hard to shut off from it and live in the present. It's created this whole new way of living and I feel nostalgic for the old days where this wasn't possible. But then again, I love it too, because now you have seen my work and taken interest in it. So yeah, it's a serious love-hate situation.
What opportunities have been presented to you by being active in that online space?
Having interviews in magazines from around the world, having my work be displayed in A$AP Rocky's home, being in a group show in NY... a lot has come from the internet so I'm thankful for it.
How would you describe your work in a sentence?
It's maybe too early for me to be able to describe it in a sentence. Maybe in a few years I can give you a better answer.
What artistic/cultural traditions influence you?
This technological age we are living in definitely influences me.
What's been the most surreal moment of your career so far?
Probably having my work in A$AP Rocky's NYC home. It's just crazy how one minute I was being ultra-fan girl at his show and the next I'm setting up my work in his house. So weird.
What causes or issues are important to you?
Mistreatment of humans, not gonna be specific because its all important.
Are you a spiritual person?
Not consciously, but I definitely am.
What are you working on atm?
Right now I'm working on finishing the school year at uni, haha.
What themes do you tend to work within?
I think my work tends to be quite spatial, involving design elements, as well as conceptual. I'm interested in mainstream culture, the media, the internet.
Who influences you, who's doing cool things at the moment?
All my friends influence me, tbh. We are all creative and I think just through conversations and being around them they influence me greatly. I also love Miuccia Prada.
What do we need more/less of tomorrow?
More equality and less inequality.
What do you hope humans achieve within the next 50 years?
I really do hope we are all equals in 50 years.
What's your idea of utopia?
I'm not sure, I keep thinking of what would be the ideal but then I think utopia needs its downfalls too in order to enjoy the good, just like Earth, haha. I think enjoying the time we have here is important.
Photography: Jo Duck