An interview with Andro Semeiko, winner of the Abbey Fellowship in Painting, in which he speaks about the work he has produced during his residency at the BSR from September–December 2022, ahead of the Autumn Open Studios.
Your practice stands at the intersection between different media and disciplines, including painting, writing, performance but also psychology, history and poetry. Is the interdisciplinary environment of the BSR influencing your practice? If so, how?
Being at the BSR is a really exciting experience. I did not foresee how eagerly archaeologists, historians and writers would engage with artists. The people here are really ready to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world together. This is one of the best residencies I have been to. We have a great female director, Abigail Brundin, who is turning the BSR into something even more inspiring; doing away with the outdated hierarchical structures. I am absolutely delighted and inspired by the above.
After two months at the BSR, I have established really fruitful contacts. The academic environment at the school makes me take my time and carefully build the foundational structure for a new work – inspired by and in cooperation with the wonderful professionals from different fields. I suspect that my future painting installation and publications will be based on more concrete historical references and further poignant critiques of current socio-political issues. The BSR residency and the people I met will define my practice for years to come.
Image: Andro Semeiko, Three Poems, 2015-2022, performance and film, 14 min
The research you’re doing in Rome will contribute to your new project: “Ruins of Empire”. Could you tell us how Rome has shaped this new work and how it is developing?
Rome is overwhelming. It will take much longer than I thought to process the information I gather here. I will have to work harder, but I have a unique chance to develop even greater work than intended. Seeing Roman architecture and ruins renders me speechless. I’m inspired by conversations with Clare Hornsby and her work at the BSR about Piranesi’s depictions of Roman ruins, as well as Rosamond McKitterick’s work on medieval churches, text and image.
Working in a great community of colleagues Catriona Gallagher, Lucy Tarquinio, Skye Wagner and Laura White and amazing other professionals I feel I’m growing exponentially. My residency lasts three months, but the wealth of content is immense. As a result of being in Rome, the “Ruins of Empires” project is transforming into a large and ambitious work; more collaborative and more multifaceted. It’s an exciting prospect.
Image: Roman Sculpture, Palazzo Massimo – Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome
Image: Andro Semeiko at the BSR Studio experimenting with historians Hardeep Dhindsa and Victoria Witkowski