Alana Kushnir July 18 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life.

In our first 'Insight' we speak to Alana Kushnir, Director and Founder of the Art Law Agency, Curator, University Lecturer, Mother and former Cultural Program Executive at Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) as we visit her at home in Prahran, Melbourne. 

What are your many hats and how did you come to wear them?
I’m a freelance curator and lawyer, and have recently founded Art Law Agency, an art law firm and curatorial initiative. Although the law and creativity can seem poles apart from one another, I think that my legal skills benefit from my curatorial skills, and vice versa. When you dig a little deeper, the methods and tools which the law offers can actually enable creativity to flourish in compelling and unexpected ways. Wearing many hats at once is part of my nature and I can’t imagine being any other way. At some points in the past I tried to just focus on being a lawyer, or on just being a curator, but ultimately I think I am a better lawyer and a better curator when I am focus on wearing both hats at the same time.

Another role which I currently have and which goes hand in hand with my practice is sessional lecturing in the School of Culture and Communications at The University of Melbourne, where I teach subjects like Arts Law, Curating Contemporary Art and Exhibition Management to Masters of Art Curatorship and Arts Management students. I think I’m a bit of a knowledge nerd in that what I love about teaching is that I get to be a student again too – there are no limits to how much you can learn, relearn and unlearn from others.

I’ve also recently become a mother and now have a 1 year old boy, Leonardo (Leo for short). In some ways this is by far my most challenging role as no day is ever the same (nor should it be). There’s no way of explaining or reasoning him to sleep if I have a looming deadline, so efficient time management has become an essential skill to have. He has an amazing attention to detail and loves to observe the world going by – it melts my heart that these qualities are such an innate part of who he is. It would make it all worthwhile for me if Leo were to one day admire what I have achieved – personally, professionally and in-between.

What is the biggest challenge and biggest joy of this unique path?
In a way it’s actually one and the same – I’ve never been able to completely switch off from working, thinking, analysing and planning. I do think that I am innately wired to be this way, but it’s certainly a drive that is spurred on by working on projects and matters that I find genuinely interesting and intellectual stimulating.

Where is your working space and how do you feel this affects your work?
Wherever my laptop is. I don’t need to be in a fixed physical space to be productive. If I don’t have to be anywhere else, then I’ll usually opt for my dining table at home. It’s where I can wear my many hats simultaneously and don’t feel pressured into wearing just one hat at a time.   

When are you most productive? 
When I am working on several projects and matters at the one time, my thought processes spill over from one task to another. For example, at the moment I am preparing to teach some classes on the multi-faceted role of the contemporary curator, writing an article for an art gallery publication about curatorial collectives and corporate structures and preparing a piece of legal advice on copyright co-ownership of a creative project.        

Do you have a favourite ritual to facilitate rest?
I find keeping up with celebrity culture to be a very soothing activity. I very easily slip into a zombie like trance when watching the Kardashians and reading articles on online lowbrow news sites. I haven’t quite worked out why I’m able to get into such a relaxed state in these moments, but I suspect/hope it’s because it makes me feel really content with everything I have in my life and who I am!

What part of your day/week do you most cherish and why?
No day or week is really the same for me, but I grew up in a family of foodies and we love to go out for brunch and lunch on the weekends.

What is the biggest insight you can offer other women?
Don’t expect success to be handed to you on a platter, it takes courage, resilience, organisation, and plenty of hard work. 

Alana is wearing the Saigon Shirt and Skirt from our July Monthly Edition.

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Alana Kushnir  - Art Law Agency 
Photographer - Sarah Pannell
Artwork displayed on wall - Ry David Bradley, Each Copy May Perish Individually 1 & 2 (L-R), 2014