On the Couch with Jose Da Silva

Jose Da Silva AAR On the CouchWho is Jose Da Silva? 
A curator, university art gallery director and keen collector of the record label Italians Do It Better. My latest exhibition is called Friendship as a Way of Life and is co-curated with my colleague Kelly Doley. It’s an expansive project involving art, conversations and events, all exploring perspectives on LGBTQI+ partnerships, collaboration, visibility, sex, intimacy and knowledge.

What would you do differently from what you do now? 
I’m still extremely motivated by the task of running a gallery and supporting artists, designers and curators. Perhaps if I entertained the idea of an alternate career, I might open a record store, study theology or work as an archivist for one of my favourite artists.

Who inspires you and why? 
I’m encouraged by all those who enrich life with ideas, and artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and performers with a singular vision. Some key figures have been artists Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Teresa Margolles, filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos, writer Dennis Cooper, choreographer Pina Bausch, and my late mentor and friend Debra Porch.

What would you do to make a difference in the world? 
I would invest my energies and resources in high school education, ensuring the subject of history was instrumental in shaping the outlook of students.

Favourite holiday destination and why? 
Istanbul. Every visit has enduring memories of sailing down the Bosphorous and exploring the Princess Islands, sweating on marble in the Çemberlitas hammam, observing the city’s beloved cats, and drinking fresh pomegranate juice at every opportunity.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why? 
Before returning to Sydney in 2018, I lived in Brisbane for 18 years. My go-to for friends and international visitors was an outing to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) to walk, swim and enjoy fresh seafood. In Sydney, there’s nothing better than the coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi for majestic views and a stop at 10 Williams St in Paddington for a glass of wine and the perfect snack (pretzel & whipped bottarga).

What are you currently reading? 
I’m starting Christos Tsiolkas’s 2019 novel, Damascus, that I initially bought as a Christmas read. It is a fascinating and challenging account of the early Christian period focused around the character of Saint Paul.

What are you currently listening to?
You’ll find me wearing headphones throughout the day. I’m enjoying recent albums by Choir Boy (Gathering Swans), Chromatics (Closer To Grey), The Soft Pink Truth (Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?) and Owen Pallett (Island); alongside some classics by Nico (Desertshore) and New Order (Low-Life).

Happiness is? 
A scenic bushwalk with my partner, watching the Sydney Dance Company perform and eating melted cheese and Seeni sambol (spicy Sri Lankan relish) on toast.

What does the future hold for you?
Even more uncertainty, with a challenging future ahead for public galleries and cultural institutions as a result of the COVID-19 health emergency.

Jose is the Director of UNSW Galleries and Co-curator of Friendship as a Way of Life. For more information, visit: www.artdesign.unsw.edu.au for details.

Image: Jose Da Silva (supplied)