Bridget Moser; Toronto; @bridget.moser
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I’m a performance artist and I make somewhat unpredictable performances that jump between different sections of prop comedy, experimental theatre and inept modern dance, among other things.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I grew up in the suburbs of Vancouver and moved to Montreal when I was 18 to go to art school at Concordia where I studied studio arts, which was a very general fine arts program. I never studied performance in school specifically but a few years after I graduated I did a residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity that was entirely performance-based and that’s when I finally figured it all out.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
Right after I graduated I spent a few years working at cookware wholesaler mostly doing graphic design and copywriting. I had to spend many hours every week thinking about household objects.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
I don’t think I’ve really had a big break but more a series of breaks of various sizes that fed into each other, and I would say I landed most of them thanks to the combination of privileges I happened to be born into and the amount and type of work I’ve been able to do as a result. Like, I can afford to spend many hours trying to find different ways to get a plunger to suction onto my body, and sure, I’ve managed to find some pretty compelling ways, but that didn’t happen in a vacuum of my own genius.
I think my parents thought my big break was when Atom Egoyan accidentally came to one of my performances, though.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
I haven’t had that moment yet… I’m ready for anything to stop working out at any moment.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
Maybe similar to not having had one big break, I don’t think I’ve had one huge failure either. But I’ve definitely made bad decisions and I’ve made work that I don’t like anymore or that is embarrassing (and not in an interesting way, like more in a true shame way where I think about it and it makes my skeleton itch) and I still get rejection letters.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Don’t feel weird about making a lot of bad art because you probably have to get it out so you know what it looks like.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Occasionally men have approached me after a show or at an exhibition opening to tell me that what I do is either not performance art, not art in general, or not funny. That’s not exactly bad advice but I guess it’s completely inaccurate.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
I think it’s an ongoing issue that surrounds a lot of women artists. Over the past few years Canadian Art has released a few surveys that show that almost all major galleries and museums across Canada still exhibit mostly white male artists by an overwhelming margin. There’s still a lot that needs to be done to break down these institutional barriers for women, but even more importantly, intersectional barriers have to be totally destroyed at the same time—racialized women are almost nonexistent within these statistics. So when we talk about making things better for women, it’s imperative that we actually mean all women.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
You may be surprised to learn that performance art doesn’t completely pay the bills. But that being said, it does pay some of the bills! A lot of the institutions I have worked with compensate artists pretty well, although that’s not always the case across the board. But living in Toronto and having a studio here is expensive, and if I spent all my time making work just to break even I would probably burn out pretty quickly and feel extremely unhappy. So I also work part-time ghostwriting content for a plastic surgeon, which I’ve done for almost four years, and I work remotely so I can still travel for exhibitions or performances or residencies. I really like it, although for the first year I had a lot of nightmares about inadvertently getting breast implants.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
Maybe in the context of other people who work with humour or comedy, this idea that millennials are too sensitive to have a sense of humour or that this generation can’t take a joke. But the real issue at hand is usually that racist, misogynist, homophobic or transphobic jokes aren’t funny, which basically makes them… not jokes. Believe me, we have a very good sense of humour, and it’s really, really weird. Instead of, you know, oppressive.