Sarah Perks, Professor of Visual Art at Manchester School of Art, is an international curator, film producer and writer. Artistic Director (Visual Art) at HOME, she is a specialist in artist film, performance and participatory art, Perks has worked extensively with international established artists including Phil Collins, Rachel Maclean, Rosa Barba, Rashid Rana, Yoshua Okon, Sophia Al-Maria, Andrew Kötting and Al & Al. In 2011, Perks set up Cornerhouse Artist Film (now HOME Artist Film), the UK’s only specialist producer and distributor of artist feature film, starting with Gillian Wearing’s Self Made and co-founder of the Feature Expanded training initiative, now in its fourth successful year. Perks has curated over 30 major exhibitions and produced over 25 films, this year she produced and curated the critically acclaimed The Scar by Noor Afshan Mirza and Brad Butler. Recent edited publications of creative meets critical writing include Dark Habits and Subkultura, and in production is an academic book on artist moving in Britain since 1989. Perks is currently working with Phil Collins on Ceremony, and major projects with Ursula Mayer, Judith Barry and Shezad Dawood; she is also writing her debut novel and planning a new theatre production.
Q & A
Which artist has had the biggest impact on you creatively?
I can never pick individuals out as its mostly the work that inspires me over the people, ongoing creative relationships inspire me and keep me going through the administrative and boring bits. Starting to single out artists would start to build a Frankenstein’s monster of figures from across history and art forms and potentially make no sense or just sound like a list of people I work with. I’m really bad at being impressed basically and never want to be like someone who already exists! I’m definitely inspired by all types of artists, writers, musicians et al, and almost never inspired by politicians.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Can I have a series of dinner parties? I’ll like to go through lots of people from history and now, I’d like to mix Karl Marx with Kim Kardashian, Maya Angelou with Morrissey, that type of thing! Let’s not assume who might be the most entertaining… actually maybe swap Marx for Engels – the latter was more fun apparently – and perhaps Khloe instead of Kim.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I don’t know to be honest, I’m sure lots of people have contributed. Advice can be so useless! But it’s always great to talk things through. I’d say the best advice is being true to yourself and also for the art world, have a super thick skin (not a problem for a Mancunian). Do you boo or choose your own adventure… who cares what society thinks? I don’t concern myself with what YOU wear or who YOU sleep with etc etc. My best advice to everyone else this year was to vote remain :(
When you’re not at work, where are you most likely to be found?
Anywhere and everywhere! At HOME, at home, travelling, looking at contemporary art, watching TV but mostly reading and writing.