Conversation with Rebecca Niederlander and Iris Anna Regn

Broodwork specifically integrates the interweaving of creative practice and family life and what collaboration brings to this practice

(projecting images of an installation of works from 2006)

Iris Regn: This is a piece by Laura and Nick Cooper from 2006,. I was approached by Fritz Haeg, he has a series of salons called Sundance Salon. He invited me on one of them to co curate on work designed for children. The Laura and Nick Cooper work relates to how they make houses in their yard…

This is the first time I contacted Rebecca, she does these mobiles.
We came together in something that was already a collaboration project. What we were interested in was how having kids influences our practice and the practice around us.

Rebecca Niederlander: One of the things is particular to everyone in a creative interest, we all work within the personal and creative atmosphere, how they effect one another is what we are interested in. We are also interested in it inter-generational relations.

Iris: This show was our catalyst. This was our shift, our moment of epiphany of about what our work is about.

Rebecca: How did we get to this place? I come through site specific….the multiple, how a singular unit affects the multiple and how they affect each other. Before collaboration I was interested in how things come together. With installation it helps to have someone to collaborate with, to work with. Communicate well with you prep-tee, this is important.

Iris: I was trained as an architect and trained at all scales. I have an interest in taking content to form and how content can affect form.

Rebecca: We had these individual practices and then we came together. We started thinking about what was interesting. We had each done various things, and together we came up with Broodwork. It has been for us a place where individual projects and those done with others have been able to come together.
We are a collaboration, not a collective. There is a difference. Broodwork is only us, this is our baby. A collective is a larger group, we are a collaboration. We involve a lot of other people with whom we collaborate with.

Iris: When we started talking about how to shape this we realized we have diverse backgrounds. We felt this topic was going to be big, so we felt we needed advisers; people who are specialist in their field who we could call on. For example, Ellen Galinsky is a woman in New York, with The Families and Work Institute. We approached her and asked if she would be an adviser for us

One of the things really good about this is that having good high profile people on board early on legitimizes an idea, and if you have a good one, people want a piece of it. Lesson to be learned here: the continuing ven-diagram is to keep thinking about what you can be…and don’t be afraid of mentors.

Presently we work with the A+D museum We suggested to the museum that we would be family advisers. Because of this we are helping to shape the museum. We give a lot, but we’ve gotten a lot because it puts us on the map in a different way. Lesson from this: do not be afraid of volunteering or researching

Rebecca: You will get back, karma, for us it has paid back in multiples

Iris: One thing we got back was from Herman Miller lifework blog. We blog on the site and this allows us to reach out to people we don’t know. We have lots of different modalities with how we work. This is legitimizing.

Early on, before we put up the website, we decided to pull in a graphic designer to do our identity. So our website is always real, designed, thought out. Juliet is helping us on this. This had been something that has helped us out a lot. In this world, top notch matters a lot.

Rebecca: From the beginning you should take yourselves very seriously, seeing who has what strengths and how to bring them together. Think how can the relationship be reciprocal?

For our first exhibit, being involved in the world, find ways to give to the world and every good deed gets responded.

We decided to do show at the Eagle Rock Arts Center about the intersection of creative and personal lives, so we proposed to curate a show on the topic. The exhibition involved large groups of people who were parents but had not defined their personal lives as having built in relationships in their creative projects. The show was a success. This was the first time we had curated a show together. We had bloggers writing about it. The LA Times made it a Hot Recommendation. We gained lots of feedback and we realized this was ripe for discussion.

Iris: When starting out, take any opportunity you can get. Only by working through something will you figure what anything is. Only know strengths by taking something or going for it. Nothing gained by stewing about it.
This show we put together in four months ( Rebecca: less). We pulled in favors, everyone we knew, it was a lot of work but a world class show.

Rebecca: Everyone we knew threw stuff in. Chefs became collaborators, we pulled in from all corners. Collaboration works when everyone joins in for a bigger project

( view power point images of works in the show)

Rebecca: The table – we figured it was important to us.

Iris: These pieces that instigate community and interaction have now become part of my practice.
people feeling legitimized by their personal part of life being part of show, and this also received great feedback.

Rebecca: We had other events, as well.
This is Laura Cooper’s backyard. One of the tours we did was on garden design.

Iris: As part of LA Forum City we got together with Leo [..] and collaborated with him to do a symposium. We realized reaching out to other groups and to collaborate with other groups is very important.
We think we are interdisciplinary. And we feel parenting is universal, everyone can chime in. It’s a leveler. On the other hand, you can talk on a high level to many people

Rebecca; the last big project we did was last year at Otis, “It’s About Time”. It’s one of our themes, how people use time. We were able to bring together some great folks, our catalogue designer made a great catalogue in collaboration with us.

Iris: One Thing in the tenants in our exhibition design is an interaction piece that is inter-generational, which in shorthand allows for kids to be occupied while adults can hang out and look at the works in the space, and people start spending time in the gallery in a different way.

Rebecca: So think about how people move through your space, the feel of it is huge. its important.

Iris: This here on right is installation by Eamon O’Kane….deals with froibel and the effect it has had on architects and artists.

We hang things a little bit lower in our spaces so that a lot of attention is given to shorter people. make sure everything is PG and we are not sacrificing quality.

Rebecca: That lower hanging line, I’m 5’2, my husband 6’3…we come from very different ways of seeing things. So we are very interested in how things look, short or tall,

Iris: Every participant either shows work or an essay on their work and how they see their work in the intersection between creative practice and the family. Its your responsibility in exploring every facet of your visual output, think it a opportunity each time and push it.

Rebecca: We are starting new projects and new collaborators. Jules Rochielle, she runs a project called SPAN- Social Practices Art Network. She approached us, is part of an extended queer family that is co parenting. She was interested in our project and how we can redefine what family means and …..and we were really excited to bring other perspectives in these issues.

Iris: She was the first to define us as a social practice

Rebecca: We are working with her on interviews, dynamic planning…we are working with her and the city of Lancaster CA to develop an artist residency. Our collaboration keeps growing, looking how far our ideas can reach out.

We found social networking to be important to social outreach.

Iris: free media can be used.

Rebecca: Where its gonna lead, we’re all just open. And that’s one of the main ideas, be open to new ideas, new projects

Iris: we started out with the two of us with a big idea, and has evolved, and now we are collaborating on par with larger institutions.

Rebecca: we are open to any questions.

Seth: You talked about how parenting is a critical part of your practice together. I’m curious how family and being parents is important to the work you do, what are the implications.

RachelR: why should we have kids?

Seth: Why its important to what you do?

Iris: One thing we have found through research and archiving and personal epiphany about having kids; Rebecca coined it “becoming the responsible generation..” People with kids work differently, more collaboratively, in shorter increments, being inspired by bigger ideas, eco-issues, history, past present and future, there is a level of humanity that creeps in, taking responsibility

Rebecca: I came out of UCLA MFA 2000 at height of their intensity, it was very much about artists and the heroic and artstar and if you are not in the Whitney in three years then you are a failure. These are really bad perspectives. I was interested in individual in artistic sphere, and happiness feels one in being a part of something larger, a relationship with the other, all these things that make us satisfied. Who wants to be broke and try to find resources. This is what we are doing because this is who we are. So how do you make that work for a long term life?

Cameron: you may be seen as being the softer side of art, but you take that to a different place

Iris: Yes, but let me address this. It is not a gender thing. There are historical reasons why this is no longer a gender issue. Its addressed in our exhibition. Its not a formal issue. Not all work is going to look like it’s informed by parenting. Its a holistic way to look at your life. So when we call upon people, they realize how family has influenced their work and some are emotionally touched by it

Rebecca: We are part of validating the condition of letting the emotional enter into it, and what is important in the time of creative making. What was only accessible through irony is now accessible through direct modality, we can address beauty by looking at it directly instead of ironically. We are in an economic slump ,the notion of an artstar is different today that 2000, the world looks different. Its a great time to look at this issues, how are we going to afford our studios, move forward, access each others assets. this idea of working together to build each others barns, that’s how its gonna play. Its changing

RachelR: Makes sense that children would spark that in you because with kids its not about you

Rebecca: Its about the life you want to choose for yourself and for us having kids is important. My six year old is singing “Its the circle of life” and this is a part of it,;becoming a parent and a responsible person. It provides an intersecting thing and opens up the mind. When you have a kid you realize it does take a village. And this is very important here in LA, where neither of us have family within two time zones. So we rely on each other,and you develop. You have to reach out and that is part of collaboration. How you make it work

Seth: You are talking about post-ironic, I am curious what you think precipitated this shift from irony, what has changed

Iris: Its a large topic, just to pull way back. I think the economy has a lot to do with it, irony in every sitcom and ad, and I think with economoy people are thinking, what do you really want? what is the mark you want to leave? what do you want to work on? And when you think about that, irony is not entertaining anymore. It does make you think what do you actually want to do with your life, and how are you gonna pay your rent

Rebecca: How are you gonna make it work? These are core questions. How am I gonna live tomorrow?

Iris: Its specific with parenting because communicating with a child is not an ironic thing. You are trying to communicate with someone who has no irony, Highly unironic thing to be a parent and I would say that is quite healthy. You are dealing with very basic stuff, eating, slowing down…. that happens.
Back to collaboration and the art of relationships. All relationships go through similar pattern. Basically, there si the honeymoon, then individuation and struggle and disappoinment, then you come out of it and what you make out of it is that third thing. Your child, your collaboration, your message. This is really important to know, because there will be a struggle but if you know “this is our mission statement, our third thing we are committed to”, you can shape how to work it out and working to make that third thing happen.

Rebecca: We have an exploratory thing for us to do.


We want you to do this quickly. you will discover over the course of your life it will change and grow. One of the things exciting in a collaboration is to find someone not just like you, but who may have compatible skill sets. We have compatibility, that is totally key.

You can look up more about your reading on

Rebecca: its great to find someone to work with who share similar traits but not all, compliment yours. for example, I am ENFJ, and Iris is INFJ
One of the things too is what it comes down to, what recharges you (introvert or extrovert)? Do I want to go home or want to go out with friends?

Iris: whats important is that neither person is either one or the other

Rebecca: I’m introverted in large crowds, I’m extrovert in a room of people like this

similar minds exploratory scores for the class:
Laura: INFP
Rebecca: INFP
Rachel R: INFP
Primo: ENFP
Cameron: ENTP
Ryan: ESFJ
Seth: INTP
Jeremy: ESFP
Tyler: ESFJ


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