I am Sophie Kromholz and This is How I Work
Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Dr. Sophie C. Kromholz in the “How I Work” series. Sophie is an art historian, creative explorer, and communicator, who has successfully defended her PhD thesis, “The Artwork Is Not Present – An investigation into the durational engagement with temporary artworks”, at the University of Glasgow. She has taught and lectured internationally and is currently working on publications while she also explores other research opportunities. Sophie also coordinates CoCARe – the interdisciplinary PhD and Postdoc Network for Conservation of Contemporary Art Research. Her expertise lies in modern and contemporary art practices and her research interests include, but are not limited to, ephemera and ephemerality, collecting behavior, conservation theory, and storytelling. At present she is living and working in Catalunya.
General: Recent Doctoral graduate (viva passed, currently waiting for thesis corrections to be read and approved)
Current Location: Granollers, Catalunya, Spain
Current mobile device: iPhone
Current computer: Macbook
Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I have just submitted the corrections for my PhD thesis in Art History at the University of Glasgow and am currently pursuing publications and further research and teaching positions.
My research focuses on temporary artworks – physical works built to last for an intentionally limited amount of time and created only once.
I also coordinate CoCARe – the interdisciplinary PhD and Postdoc Network for Conservation of Contemporary Art Research. My research looks at the role of loss and how to promote a durational engagement with artworks which cannot physically endure in a traditional sense. In essence, I am interested in how future audiences can experience artworks which no longer physically exist and alternative conservation and display methods. If it melts, auto-destructs, is eaten, disintegrates, or is unmade through other means – it’s my bag.
What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
I am a keen Apple user and rely on my Macbook and iPhone. Also, over the course of my doctoral research I have become an absolute wizard with Word.
What does your workspace setup look like?
I work in a combination of places: home, university office, and cafes. Key workspace requirements: wifi and a plug for my laptop charger. Additional things I like to have present: a bulletin board and coffee.
What is your best advice for productive academic work?
- Do the thing. Whatever it is that you are holding off, just get on with it.
- Sleep enough.
- Harness the power of saying “no”, to social things you don’t have the energy for, to additional projects you cannot commit to, to doing things that distract you from the work you need to be doing now. “No” is a powerful word; use it well and use it more often. You are both not a doormat, and not able to do everything all the time, all at once.
How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?
I am an avid list maker. I write everything that pops into my head down and keep track of things on a combination of laptop, phone, and paper notes.
Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
Other than my smartphone and laptop, I tend to go analogue and use old-fashioned pen and paper.
Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
I am a strong communicator and good at relaying research to non-specialist audiences. Enthusiasm helps, as does creativity.
What do you listen to when you work?
I rarely find I am able to listen to music and work at the same time now. But, if I feel particularly insistent on having a little buzz in the background and find myself in the office, classical tunes without singing. I prefer not to multitask and spread my attention if I can help it. Focus is key and finding ways to optimize it is critical.
What are you currently reading?
I love to read, and have become an avid reader of short stories. They are easy to take along with you wherever you are and squeeze in pockets of time dotted throughout the day.
Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?
I have often said that I am an introvert that doesn’t have the luxury to be shy – you simply don’t get anything done that way. In effect I think I am a combination. I am a social creature and seek activities to promote my research, as well as socialize outside the ivory tower where the air can be a bit thin, because having hobbies is healthy. But I also recognize the importance of being able to recharge on my own with a cup of tea and a book.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Jodi Rose, an artist friend of mine once told me: “Do the thing that you believe only you can do, that is the most valuable use of your time.” In her case this involves pursuing the idea of creating a global symphony of bridges – her work is rather conceptual. I try to apply this concept of “best use of your time” to the projects that I commit to. I say yes to, and pursue the things, that I am willing to give my all.
I love the advice “Do the thing that you believe only you can do, that is the most valuable use of your time.” It's a bit more difficult to implement in practice (e.g. filling in forms) but I try to schedule those tasks for times when I'm tired, so I don't spend my \”most productive time\” on those.