Sean Grattan

My studies took place at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Los Angeles, California. I set out to achieve a Masters of Fine Arts degree and I am happy and grateful to report that the Anne Reid Memorial Scholarship contributed significantly to the successful completion of my degree. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to pay for my tuition during the second year of my degree.

I could not have anticipated the extent to which my time at CalArts would change me as an artist and as a person. The school is recognised internationally as a leading educational institution for the production and theorisation of experimental art, across many of the major creative disciplines. The depth of knowledge and expertise I gained from my studies was so immense that I have completely re-imagined the way that I conceptualize, produce and engage with art. I cannot imagine a better place to have completed my post-graduate education.

Whilst studying I produced a number of different moving image works, ranging radically in concept, production value and duration. This experimentation can be understood as a result of my engagement with the major environmental and educational differences that I was surrounded by in Los Angeles; living in a foreign country forced me to confront and re-evaluate many of my assumptions about contemporary art. By the end of the three-year degree, these influences had settled into a rigorous new practice.

During my second year at CalArts, the independent New Zealand curator, Mark Williams commissioned me to contribute to the Creative New Zealand funded project, Artists Cinema. The resulting artwork, Carmen San Diego: Out Of Work And On The Run was included in the Artists Cinema screening at the New Zealand International Film Festival, and was also exhibited in a group show at Artspace, Auckland, as well as a New Zealand moving image showcase at the Centre Pompidou, Paris and LUX, London. Mark also invited me to participate in his online project, Circuit, a tremendous and important new addition to the New Zealand art community.

Since graduating, I have been involved in the distribution and exhibition of my thesis movie, HADHAD. The beginning of this process began with a screening event at CalArts, where I installed the movie outside in a field for its public debut. The movie had its first screening in New Zealand in a show at The Physics Room, Christchurch and went on to be exhibited at St. Paul St Gallery in Auckland. It has since screened in various events in Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin, Oberhausen, Latvia, and Vienna.

I am also very proud to say that an internship I began with the artists Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch has now developed into a full-time job. Ryan and Lizzie are two of the most exciting young artists working in the United States today, with shows at MoMA PS1, the Whitney Biennale, and the Venice Biennale 2013, to name just a few of the venues worldwide that have showcased their art. I work in the artists’ studio as the Exhibitions Manager and Registrar. My relationship with Ryan and Lizzie has so far taken me to Zurich, Paris, New York, Stockholm, Venice, and Bilbao to manage the production and deinstallation of major museum shows.