When Kiri-Una Brito Meumann was in her final year of high school, ASAP Rocky purchased her art. It happened in the comments section of her Instagram page, when he wrote “YOUR VISION IS DOPE, WHAT’S YOUR EMAIL”. As it was happening, she thought someone was trolling her. “It was right before exams, I was meant to be studying and I was like, I don’t need to be studying anymore! But in hindsight it’s just a little fragment of a much bigger picture.”
Kiri is grounded, cool, effortless and talented beyond measure. Moments inside her Melbourne CBD apartment conversation turned to travel, our shared guilty pop-culture pleasures and her latest installation at Como House, called Como Cam, an exhibition which explores the persuasiveness of logos and discusses how much influence a brand and a logo on a garment can have on the consumer. Presented as a virtual reality, physically the installation is a green screen but virtually, the observer is transported into a plethora of branded environments. “In this day and age, it’s so much about ‘come and take a photo with me with the art – I’m cultured’ and what this work kind of does is, it’s filming you in the space, its filming you on your phone generally, and it’s kind of funny being able to see yourself operate like that.” Her vision isn’t one that is generationally typical, after all she is technically GenZ, she is candid as she expresses herself but what her thoughts are collected and feel like they should belong to someone decades ahead of her.
Kiri discusses feminism, the arts from the perspective of a female artist imparting nuggets of wisdom for people trying to carve out a space for themselves in the art world. Her routine is equal parts practical and lust-worthy.
TB: What does beauty mean to you?
KU: I think beauty is confidence. Confidence and just knowing who you are.
TB: What is your earliest beauty memory?
KU: This is a weird one but basically in primary school my friend had this older cousin staying at her house and she had older girl things: bronzer and a razor. We got her bronzer and caked it all over our faces, that’s my first beauty memory.
TB: How important is a routine to you?
KU: I think having a routine is super, super important. I feel like it would be really easy to get lazy if you didn’t have a routine. For example: doing exercise every day and having breakfast every day, I feel like those are really important routines for me to get the day started. I just feel like doing exercise every day really sets me off well. I do pilates or barre, nothing crazy but if I don’t do it I’ll notice throughout the day that I’m not feeling as energetic.
TB: What about your beauty routine?
KU: I am not as good with my beauty routine as I am with my life routine. I can go through waves where I’ll be super good morning and night and then I’ll go through waves where I’ll neglect it all. I’ll wash my face and put on Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturiser, it can go between two very drastic things. But I feel like that in itself is sort of a routine.
TB: Do you do anything unconventional?
KU: I don’t know if I have any beauty hacks, I feel like when it comes to my hair, if I know I’m going to – I know this sounds really generic – but if I’m going to wear it curly then I just make sure that I have the day where I can spend a few hours letting it dry naturally.
TB: How curly is your hair?
KU: It’s pretty curly. I wish I had an afro, it’s in between afro and straight.
TB: What are your top 5 beauty products?
KU: I love the Bumble and Bumble Hair Gel, it’s really good because if I’m having a bad hair day I can like slick it back and it will look really crisp and clean. I like the Original & Mineral Shampoo and Conditioner, the ultimate hydrating one. I like it because I have curly hair, generally curly hair shampoo leaves a lot of the oil in your hair so that the curl stays intact, but this one I figured I can still have nice curls but it also cleans it well at the same time. I like Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate, I don’t like to wear lots of make up – but sometimes I put on a little bit of contour. It’s super light and creamy and if I feel like putting on a bit of something I usually mix the Glossier Skin Tint and the Tom Ford Foundation, I mix the two because I find the Tom Ford one to be a bit cakey and the Glossier one is really light so mixing the two works well.
TB: What beauty advice would you give your 16y/o self?
KU: I honestly feel like exercise and eating well is the ultimate beauty trick.
TB: What’s your strategy for getting dressed in the morning?
KU: I usually have in mind what’s going to be happening for the day, for example, if I know I’m going to have a busy work day and I’ll be getting my hands dirty, I don’t wear clothes that I really love, but if I’m just having a chill day, I’ll wear nicer items and put in more effort. You kind of just have to know what your day is going to be like so you can dress for it.
TB: Do you have a very edited wardrobe or is it just whatever flows?
KU: It’s pretty flowy, and I feel like I definitely dress for comfort, so everything has a very comfortable feel, even if it is dressy for an occasion it’s a silky pyjama suit, it’s always comfort.
TB: What drives you?
KU: I have big dreams and aspirations and I feel like that is what my drive is always, to get those big dreams and aspirations.
TB: What is the best and hardest thing about being a woman in 2018 for you?
KU: The hardest thing is that obviously feminism, equality and all of these things are very apparent right now, so I think that a lot of men can be quick to dismiss it, and be like ‘That’s just feminist bullshit’ and that can feel really frustrating. and a positive thing… It’s an experimental time where women can be who they want to be and finally, it just matters what we think.
TB: Who are some women that you most admire?
KU: I really admire all of my girlfriends. They are all super inspirational, they all work really hard, they have big dreams and aspirations, I feel like I always gel with people who are like that. And my Mum.
TB: Do you have any female artists that you look to for inspiration?
KU: See that’s the thing… so many of my favourite artists are men which sucks, it’s exactly what’s wrong with the art world, like they get the voice. I saw this exhibition at the Contemporary Gallery and there was the Gorilla Girls and they were basically exposing all of these things throughout the art industry and discussing all the major galleries in New York and how many shows they had featuring women, and it was actually so alarming to see how under-represented female artists are in the art world.
TB: Do you have any advice for this generation of women?
KU: I think just be who you are. And don’t be afraid to speak up about things. I think that’s one thing that a lot of women including myself find it sometimes hard to speak up in such a male-dominated world, but I really think the only way to have people hear and understand you is if you express your opinions.
TB: What would you say to people trying to carve out their own space in the art world?
KU: I feel like I can only make things that I understand, so I know what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t make work about a topic that I have no idea about, so usually, my work is always coming from things around me. I think if you stay true to who you are and what you’re involved in then you’re destined to make something true and you’re going to be different to other people because your perspective is your own.
TB: Who is Kiri-Una?
KU: She is fabulous! Let’s leave it at that. She is fabulous.
Photography and interview: Ella Jane