Report from Arcus, Japan November 2011

Report from Arcus, Japan November 2011

Helmut Batista, Director of CAPACETE, Brazil

"One cannot be an amateur, or decide one day 'Let's be interdisciplinary". A university may decide to develop in that direction, but what matters is that each researcher finds and establishes some complicities with other researchers so that interdisciplinarity comes from the base of the pyramid and works its way up. One can only benefit from interdisciplinary practices if researchers meet other researchers whilst learning how to discuss both their competencies and the outcome of their interaction; therefore contributing to the exposure of the risks inherent in an interdisciplinary practice...the first obstacle is often linked to individual competencies coupled with a tendency to jealously protect one's own domain. Specialists are often too protective of their own prerogative, do not actually work with other colleagues, and therefore do not teach their students to construct a diagonal axis in their methodology."
Julia Kristeva

"The new type of art institute cannot merely be an art museum as it has been until now, but no museum at all. The new type will be more like a power station, a producer of new energy."
Alexander Dorner (1893 - 1957)

"Maybe I should come to the conclusion that if I think, therefore I am also another. Because only another thinks, thought is only interesting in its potential for alterity. That would be a good definition for anthropology.
And also a good definition for anthropophagy (...) 'I'm only interested in what is not mine. Law of man. Law of anthropophagy.' Law of the anthropologist".
Eduardo Viveiro de Castro


A residency program might be the only place in the cultural arena which is, or should be, out of commercial instinct. It is a luxurious situation for the artists and a challenging situation from an institutional point of view; but definitely a necessary situation in a world driven more and more only by and on market forces. It is the only place where market forces have yet not established rules of intellectual conquests and subversion.

There are many ways how residencies are run and on which premises they take their specific shape. Hosting the visitor is, nevertheless, the basic main premise of such a program. Conditions for hosting do vary from host to host, from city to city and from country to country depending on innumerable factors.

ARCUS residency program has reached the incredible 18 years of age and has had innumerable artists in it’s program; some of them now high respected artists in the world arena such as Dominique Gonzales Foerster, Sharon Lockhardt just to name a few. This, definitely brings us to the conclusion that something special has happened in Moriya in the past and present that must have involved a lot of professionals with real dedication. It is not just a matter of luck that we can strongly see and feel, as an example, in the work of Gonzeles-Foerster, her deep love and aesthetical approach to Japan culture. This is what a residency program can and does provoke.

Speaking from the other side of the world, more precisely Rio de Janeiro where CAPACETE residency is located, and running for almost as long – 15 years - I have to underline that putting up such a respected worldwide program is not an easy task. As said before, a residency program is probably the only last remaining art program that lives entirely for the artists research; it is from that specific idealistic point of view that such a program has to survive. Museums, galleries, private and public institution would suffer without such programs as it would make the basis of the art system a much fragile one to work in. It is therefore a free enterprise where experimental research is truly possible; with no constraint to whatsoever makes up the art market and institutions.

ARCUS program was therefore not a surprise for me as it confirmed that long lasting projects in the field of contemporary research can only show their quality through time. As all serious research in all disciplines, only long time based on collaboration can lead to real breakthrough in intellectual and social conquest.

While I was in ARCUS in late November 2011 and had the experience to be in that place with other three artists, Fazal from Pakistan, Woj from Poland, Wai from Hong Kong and all the dedicated crew from ARCUS stuff including director Mami, I had the feeling that life was just going on as usual. In the two weeks that I stayed at ARCUS I met so many ex-residents that just passed by to say hello or come to have some professional meetings with me or the residents, that I felt that this place was and is full of human energy that, in no circumstances, should be lost. This is very hard work that can hardly be replaced.

All three artists were deeply involved in their specific research towards their artistical views but also towards this very special social situation.

It seemed that none of them would put into doubt that their stay was highly rewarding for their careers and, as a director of a similar residency program, I would doubt if all three wouldn’t like to stay longer or came back very soon.

I also knew of the constraints that the tsunami had provoked on a big part of the country and also reaching all the way to Moriya where ARCUS is located; including the radioactive problems that is still being researched upon. This is a problem where my professional voice and approach can and should just remain silent as, so far as I have understood, it is still under scientific investigation.

It is very hard to understand these circumstances coming from a distant country where no natural disaster such as earthquakes exists. As a matter of fact, Brazil suffers almost from none natural disasters.

I know that life must and does go on, even under such terrible circumstances. I also know that human kind cannot live without culture in its vast differences of expressions. Exchange of experiences is what makes society move forward. This is what ARCUS does with its program.