- Interview with Reinier Klok and Arif Kornweitz (Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee)
- “What's up with Taiwan?” by Elise Luong
- “No Borders: On the most accepted form of support for artists” by Rob Hamelijnck
- “Magic Man” by Ralph Barrientos
- (Virtual) leftovers, residues, remnants and recollections: from abstract thoughts to a specific example in Nida Art Colony” by dr. Vytautas Michelkevičius, Nida Art Colony
- “Water Pioneer” by Satellietgroep
- Mara and Max of the So Far Channel, experience from Lijang studios, China
- “Ridin'“ by Lisa Lipton
- “Finding Purpose” by Dina Kafafi, Townhouse Gallery
- “Portrait of a Cow” by Rhona Mühlebach and William Aikman
- “Artist Residencies: Art Making and the Renegotiation of Global Tensions with Local Realities” by Francisco Guevara, Arquetopia
- “Struggle & Emerge” by Lakker
- Olivia Joret, experience from Mustarinda, Finland
- “Donaumeer Jungfrau” by Sander Strauß
- Interview with Laura Welzenbach, Eyebeam
- “Sculptural Speakers” by Benjamin Nelson
- Art in Science Labs and Beyond by Irène Hediger, artists-in-labs
- “Permanent Vacation” by Abe Vink
- Ibi Ibrahim, experience from Beirut Art Residency
- “Impractical Hydropathy” by Julian Weaver
- Erna van Sambeek, experience from Culture Vultures, Morocco
- “Lingering Sound” by Wu Siou Ming
- “Thoughts on production, professionalism, and what constitutes (art)work and not (art)work” by Matthew Evans and Shinobu Akimoto, RFAOH
- “Little Birds and a Demon, A Live Transmission” by Grace Schwindt
- Ernesto Bautista, experience from ARCUS Project, Japan
There are endless possibilities for the fate of an artwork - sold and exhibited in a museum or a gallery; sold and sometimes forgotten; left in some corner at the artist’s studio; in process (forever); given as a present - and so much more. Based on this, for this issue of Station to Station - ‘All that art’, we compiled contributions in text and in audio* from artists and residency organisers about their experiences, and sometimes expectations, of what can happen to the art (works) in the broadest sense of the word, created in artist-in-residence places.
“If I could express the same thing with words as with music, I would, of course, use a verbal expression. Music is something autonomous and much richer. Music begins where the possibilities of language end. That is why I write music.” - Jean Sibelius, 1919
And maybe that is one of the reasons why sound is being used more and more as an autonomous medium in the art scene. With this in mind, the online radio collective Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee was invited to curate the audio part of this issue.
Interview with JJJNNN
(Arif Kornweitz) Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee is an online radio collective. We’re visiting art institutes to produce live radio on location and we’re broadcasting contributions by artists. There are also programmes we produce that contain material by other reporters, like Reinier did with Kunstvlaai, where two artists visited different small art initiatives to conduct interviews. Later we broadcasted a collage that Reinier made using that material.
(Reinier Klok) I think the medium of online radio gives us the freedom to explore different formats: you can do whatever you want and it is relatively cheap to make. I really like the fact that we can experiment with documenting a manifestation, for example, capturing the atmosphere onto a recording or by making a sound collage. I’ve been experimenting with the performance artist Rodrigo Sobarzo to document his performance Prins of Ne†works in audio, because it was a very sensory experience, and he thought it could be nicer to make an audio recording. In that way you could make a completely new sensory experience, which doesn’t give away what the original experience was.
(AK) That is one of the challenges and one of the good things about this medium. Often the answer to that challenge is a way of reflecting on the work. You have to somehow translate the experience into audio, and that might open up another perspective on a work. We enjoy experimental broadcasts in collaboration with artists, and that is why we find this issue of Station to Station interesting. Maybe the most exciting works are the ones playing with the medium of radio or audio.
(RK) We are at the end of a pilot year, where we find out what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes we simply gave away our frequency to an artist, and sometimes there were artworks or discussions. Then again, like at the Rijksakademie during the open studios, we produced and moderated several hours of radio. We also did live transmissions that were just that - they were kind of ephemeral, disappearing after they were broadcasted.
(Bojana Panevska) You are working on different projects, with many different approaches, and I’m not asking you to define yourself, but I’m curious if you operate from a perspective of a curator, like choosing the participants for example for live streaming. Or do you see yourselves as radio DJ’s, and I’m using this word in absence of any other word, or as producers – or is it a mix of all that?
(AK) Curator might be a good term, but I believe editor is better. We understand Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee as a station, and the goal is to offer a broad spectrum of content.
(RK) My approach for the reports from Kunstvlaai and a similar report from the Spring Performance Festival was like a DJ, using the same software, and mixing different audio files. Doing it in the same associative way of how you would play music: this fragment makes sense to be played after this one, and so on.
(AK) We prepare live shows in a similar way. For example, at the Rijksakademie we set up several studio visits before the open studios in order to get an idea of the works that would be on display. Then we came up with combinations of artists that might go well together in one programme. We do pre-interviews, prepare questions, look for sound contributions. We see the radio as an extension of an exhibition, an experimental space. In one particular case at the Rijksakademie, three residents proposed to join us in the studio for a conversation about water, a theme that related to their work in different ways. There wasn’t a group show about water in this case, but the radio offered space to talk about this theme, make connections and go in depth a bit more. So in that sense, sometimes you can speak of curating, and other times it’s editing. Ideally once we have developed the infrastructure of the station and set up a schedule for broadcasts, once people take their own slots, we can focus more on the curating part as well as on creating more content ourselves.
(BP) As a medium, (online) radio is becoming very hip. Artists are starting to use it more and more, especially for documentation of an art work. Why do you think this radio revival is happening?
(RK) Having discussions on the radio creates a different, intimate relation. The talkshows we do for institutions are many times part of the public programmes. However, I believe the conversations we have are really nice and intimate, because it is only few of us at a table, with headphones on, so you can hear your and the other voices amplified. This creates a very close and relaxed atmosphere that is very different from a public lecture or a public interview.
(AK) You especially notice the difference with guests who are usually not that comfortable with public appearances. Often they are fine with speaking about their work on the radio.
(RK) And having a recording of that can be very useful to prepare for future presentations. That is another thing I have noticed: a lot of artists have audio works as a residue of a project, and they are really happy to present it when we offer them the opportunity. If you have a recording, maybe as a stand alone artwork it doesn’t really make sense, or it feels a bit bare to present it in that way in a space. When there is a platform for it, people are happy to contribute.
(AK) That also relates to the relative immateriality of audio. You can take it with you, maybe recreate the atmosphere of a work later on. Objects are less easy to transport and might stay behind. That’s why the idea of audio contributions to an issue about the fate of artworks created in residencies intrigued us.
“What's up with Taiwan?” by Elise Luong
(JJJNNN) Thorough audio essay dealing with artist-in-residence programmes in Taiwan, consisting of interviews with residency managers, artists and creative activists. Australian born artist manager Elise Luong authored the essay during her stay at Bamboo Curtain Studio in New Taipei City, and views it as a starting point for her research into effective residency management.
- Undecided Production - Production House founded by Elise Luong - http://www.undecided-productions.com/
- Bamboo Curtain Studio & Creative Talents Program - http://bambooculture.com/en/apply/67
- Martial Law Taiwan - https://outreachfortaiwan.org/2015/02/12/taiwan-martial-law/
- Voice: Iris Hung - Managing Director of Bamboo Curtain Studio - http://bambooculture.com/en/
- Voice: Renyu Ye - Curator at Kuandu Residency Program at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts - http://www.kdmofa.tnua.edu.tw/en
- Ministry of Culture Taiwan - https://english.moc.gov.tw/article/index.php?sn=240
- Taiwan Art Space Alliance - https://www.facebook.com/TaiwanArtSpaceAlliance
- Voice: Yu-Fang Shang - Director of Bywood - https://www.facebook.com/bywood99
- Huashan Creative Park - http://www.huashan1914.com/en/
- Taipei Artist VIllage - http://www.artistvillage.org/
- 435 Art Studio - https://www.facebook.com/435artstudio
- Pier 2 Art Centre - http://pier-2.khcc.gov.tw/home01.aspx?ID=1
- Bywood - https://www.facebook.com/bywood99
- Dulan Sugar Factory Creative Park - http://tour.taitung.gov.tw/en-us/Travel/ScenicSpot/613/Sintung-Sugar-Factory-Culture-Park
- Voice: Anabelle Lacroix - Managing director of Liquid Architecture. Previous resident of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts - http://www.liquidarchitecture.org.au/ - http://www.kdmofa.tnua.edu.tw/en
- Voice: Renyu Ye - Curator at Kuandu Residency Program at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts - http://www.kdmofa.tnua.edu.tw/en
- Voice: Lois Chen - Manager of Luzhunan Residency - https://www.facebook.com/luzhunan
- Bywood - https://www.facebook.com/bywood99
- Dawn Artist Village - http://www.dawnartistvillage.com/
- Guandu International Outdoor Sculpture Festival - http://gd-park.org.tw/en/festival
- Voice: Margret Shui - Founder of Bamboo Curtain Studio - http://bambooculture.com/en/
“No Borders: On the most accepted form of support for artists” by Rob Hamelijnck
Monday, the 16th of January is Martin Luther King Day, commemorating his life and legacy. We join a peaceful march with thousands of people from San Francisco and San Jose, black and white, young and old together. We walk with Ken and Fred, two union guys who are in their mid sixties. Ken is from the United Educators Union; Fred is really great at feeding chants to the masses. He says with a deep, firm voice: “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want?!” and we answer “Justice!” “Tell me what you need, what you really, really need?!” and we answer “Peace!” This is our second day in San Francisco. We will stay here for five weeks for a residency on invitation from the Kadist Art Foundation. Fred shouts, “United!”, and we go, “We stand!”; “Divided!”, he says, and “We fall!” we answer. We smile because this reminds us of Laurel & Hardy.1
Friday the 20th of January is the inauguration day of Trump. We join a peaceful demonstration forming a human chain across the Golden Gate Bridge to show we are all united. On Saturday the 21st we join the Women’s March in the pouring rain.
Jens Hoffmann writes in his book The Studio, “with the emergence of conceptual art in the mid-1960s, the traditional notion of the studio became at least partly obsolete. Other sites emerged for the generation of art, leading to the idea of post-studio practice. But the studio never went away; it was continually reinvented in response to new realities.”2 We left our studio twelve years ago; the world is our studio. From the beginning of our cooperation as Fucking Good Art, residencies have been an important instrument for our art practice. They provide us from time to time with a (very nice) studio, time and money, and constantly changing contexts. We are observing and recording our own social group, habitat and networks; we are interested in how the art world functions at different locations. Being on the move feels very liberating and is very productive for us.
But it is not always a choice not to have a studio. It is increasingly difficult to find an affordable studio, even in cities like Rotterdam and Berlin. After our 3 months residency in 2005 in Projectstudio Berlin Fonds BKVB, we needed more time to finish our Berlin issue and lived there for a year.3 In this issue we wrote: “The biggest lie about Berlin is that all the cultural workers spend their days in a cafe with their laptop and a latte macchiato surfing on free Wifi; the cafe is their airport. The reality, however, is rather different. Most of them call themselves patch workers and invest their talents in a variety of ways, often for very little financial return. Following our residency we had a desk for two months at Zentralbüro. This is a new studio model: the ‘Creative Office,’ where artists, architect, designers, curators, writers, translators, etc. rent shared space and work themselves to death.” This was in 2006. Ten years later, two houses down the street next to our residency in San Francisco there is a studio space called SHARED. Right next to the entrance an artist has put down his easel; further in the back people are working at shared desks. On their window is written: “SHARED is a space for creative people to work and collaborate together. It is based in the belief that together we can create greater things than we could individually or in isolation.” It’s a hard time for artists and activists in San Francisco. The dot-com boom and decades of gentrification has dampened the city’s revolutionary spirit.4 Many artists have left San Francisco and moved to Oakland, Portland or LA, someone told me.
In an issue of Metropolis M magazine from two years ago, I read a text by Marina Vishmidt. After her two-year residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie in 2008 she left the Netherlands. According to her, “The year 2008 marks the reformation of the once so praised art system in the Netherlands from discourse to anti-discourse. This year also marks the rise of a neoliberal populist view on the role of art in our society.” Quietly, art programs slipped out of the picture. The cuts to the cultural plan in the years 2004-2008 in Rotterdam killed the once generous artist-in-residency program of the CBK, an exchange program with seven European cities, without consulting us, the artists. This AIR-program was one of the reasons artists came to Rotterdam, but internationalisation has no priority for the policy makers anymore. Last December, the funding for the long-term exchanges organised by the artists’ collective Kaus Australis Rotterdam in collaboration with IAAB Basel was also terminated. If I am not mistaken there are now four guest studios left, all organised by artists’ collectives. Can you imagine, Europe’s biggest harbour without a city-funded exchange program?
The loopholes are getting bigger. Now that the money for production partly goes to art centres rather than directly to the artists, it would be reasonable for artists to receive an appropriate fee and production budget. This is the topic of today and discussions and negotiations are ongoing.5 The art institutes complain, “But we have so little, we can not pay the artists out of our budget.” That is not solidarity; that is selfishness. It is painfully true what Pascal Gielen writes in his book The Murmuring of the Artistic Multitude: “The globalized art scene is an ideal production entity for economic exploitation. These days the work ethic of the art world with its ever-present young dynamic, flexible working hours, thematic approach, short-term contracts or lack of contracts and its unlimited, energetic freedom is capitalized witching the cultural industry and has been converted into a standard production model.” So what are we going to do about this?
The new reality in the Netherlands started when budget cuts were announced in 2011 by our cultural minister (of the VVD liberal party and a Motörhead fan), who said “No one is safe”. According to him, the government acts too much as a financier. In order to protest and raise our concerns, we occupied the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and from there walked the march of civilization, 25 km to the parliament in The Hague. For hours we stood in the blazing sun on the Malieveld.6 Each speech spoke of the destruction of civilization, and emphasized that “we are not subsidy guzzlers”. Terrible kitsch, of course, but absolutely necessary. The collective Dutch Artists placed a black advertisement in the New York Times saying: “Do not enter the Netherlands, Cultural Meltdown in progress.” All protests were in vain. Since 2013, the 25 percent budget cut for culture is a fact. Five of the eleven art institutes for presentation are closed and the Fonds BKVB and the Mondriaan Fonds merged, with the budget cut almost in half and a new focus stated on ‘excellence’.
Another important decision was taken in 2012 to stop a social program for artists called WWIK, Work and Income for Artists. According to the government it did not fit to have rules for artists different than those for other people. The WWIK offered artists a basic income. All these ideological decisions have resulted in the marginalisation of art. And if we add short- term contracts, globalisation, gentrification, hyper real estate developments, anti-squatting laws, advanced professionalization, art entertainment industry, and the demolition of the welfare state, no wonder we all feel stressed out and anxious. It feels like there are fewer and fewer options to exist as artists.
Between 1830 and 1910, thousands of artists left their studio to work in artists’ communities around Europe’s countryside to paint en plein air. They were all inspired by the growing cult around François Millet.7 The heyday of these artists’ colonies as a dominant mode of international art practice was between 1870 and 1910. Barbizon, only 60 km from Paris, became the most famous village and a model for others. Dachau, der berühmte Malerort, was also immensely popular, something we cannot imagine now. Painters migrated to the countryside for shorter or longer periods of time, and paintings were sent back to the cities to be exhibited and sold. It had become a serious career option for artists. Vincent van Gogh was one of those artists. However, he didn’t follow the mainstream; instead he went to Arles to start his one-man residency. In his letters you can read that he was obsessed with success. Each letter is about money: if Theo showed his sketches to potential buyers; if a critic wrote a laudatory review. What all these artists did not foresee was that the artists' villages became tourists destinations because of their work. The artists were the motor for gentrification. Even then.
Residencies are really different from other art spaces. They are the space in-between, essentially unspecified and open. Looking back, I feel that in the last fifteen years residency programs have become important sites for artists because of the new reality. Residencies are maybe a new form of artists' colonies, and apart from all idealistic arguments, they have also become a career opportunity for both the nomads and the residents.8 To really get an idea of the magnitude: Res Artis, founded in 1993, lists over 490 residency opportunities in over 70 countries, and the map of TransArtists has around 1500 residencies. Most of them are in Europe and North America. In 2008 we had a four-month residency in Zurich connected to a big group exhibition called Shifting Identities (Swiss) Art Now, questioning notions of the national art scene and state.9 For our FGA#20 The Swiss Issue, we mapped out residency programs in Switzerland.10 We found that there were around 80 opportunities for Swiss artists outside of Switzerland, and 20 for artists to come in. This may not seem like much, but our experience is that the Swiss art scene is open. If an artist was doing too many residencies he or she was considered a residency hopper - something not really meant as a compliment. But then we met Wenzel Haller from the Swiss residency network for an interview. He explained that artists-in-residency programs were “the most accepted form of support for artists in Switzerland.” What these lists show is that in the art world, there are actually no borders for cultural migrants like us. We can freely go anywhere unlike those “other” migrants who seek a life. Of course today’s news of 29th January - the closure of U.S. borders to certain nationalities - changes a lot.11 What would it mean if we consider residencies in this context? How can they play a more active role in the resistance against walls and fences, and connect to the No Border movement, human rights and social change? Here in San Francisco more than nine thousand homeless people live in tents on the streets. Every day we realise that we are just lucky to be at the "good" side of the line, and they are not. With Trump it will probably get worse. We painfully realise we live in a parallel universe called “the art world”.
I was reading a very nice interview with Brian Eno by one of his daughters, Irial Eno. One of her questions was, “Can you say something about the most challenging work you have ever done?” He said, “Things can be challenging because you lose faith, asking yourself, am I doing the right thing? Why am I bothering at all? The world is full of art and there are lots of things that need to be changed: Will adding yet more art to the heap make any difference? What use is art anyway? Am I just repeating myself, following the path of least resistance, or am I doing what I’m actually good at?” More self-questioning comes after this. And this is why I think artists’ residencies are so incredibly important: precisely because you will be confronted with these questions. An artist residency is not a holiday. As Eno says, “Being an artist is not just making pretty things. It is a way of thinking about things; it’s a way of living in the world. Instead of the view that art is only projecting meaning, we can view art as a trigger; a way of making something happen.” I think artist residencies are a trigger; they can make something happen. For us, it has already worked like this for twelve years.
- 1 United We Stand, from Towed In A Hole, 1933. It originated in the fourth verse of a 1768 patriotic ballad, The Liberty Song, by John Dickinson. During the Civil War, the phrase became a rallying cry for the Union cause. By the early 20th century, labour unions had taken up the slogan as a call for solidarity in the struggle for better working conditions.
- 2 The Studio, Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art, MIT Press 2012. Jens Hoffmann is director special exhibitions and public program at the Jewish museum, New York.
- 3 FGA #12, International edition Berlin, 2006.
- 4 From the comic by DD in the journal San Francisco Art&Politics, 2010.
- 5 W.A.G.E., wage for work New York is focused on regulating the payment of artist fees (http://www.wageforwork.com). a-n from London campaigns for artistic, legislative and economic measures that enhance artists’ working lives and professional status. Two years ago they launched the Paying Artists Campaign in response to the needs of our 21,000 members to secure payment for artists who exhibit in publicly-funded galleries, (http://www.a-n.co.uk).
- 6 Since 1600 Malieveld serves as a place for demonstrations, military parades, fairs, festivals and events. The name comes from the game ‘malie’ with is a sort of golf or croquet.
- 7 Nina Lubbren, Rural Artists' Colonies in Europe, Manchester University Press, 2001. 8 Nomads & Residents, project by Bik Van der Pol.
- 8 Nomads & Residents, project by Bik Van der Pol.
- 9 Shifting Identities (Swiss) Art Now was presented in Kunsthaus Zürich in the summer of 2008, curated by Mirjam Varadinis, a sequel to the all-Swiss exhibition Freie Sicht aufs Mittelmeer (reference to the motto of the Punks in Zurich in the 1980s) organised by the Kunsthaus in 1998. The intervening 10 years, have washed away any confidence in the possibility to fairly represent a national art scene: the notions of state, nationality and cultural scene have never yet historically been drifting so far apart.
- 10 FGA#20, The Swiss Issue, 2008, made for the exhibition Shifting Identities (Swiss) Art Now, Kunsthaus Zurich. Published by edition fink, episode and FGA.
- 11 January 29: President Donald Trump issued several executive orders related to immigration, including constructing a wall on the border with Mexico, building more detention centers, and stripping sanctuary cities of federal funding. He is also planning on signing executive orders regarding refugees, travel bans from Muslim-majority countries, and national security issues this week.
“Magic Man” by Ralph Barrientos
(JJJNNN) This song was made in collaboration with the children of Sarecha Village. It testifies to the goal of the Sowing Seeds residency: to give opportunities to both the local community and to international artists in the sharing and exchanging of ideas, knowledge and skills during a residency period of two weeks. Ralph wanted to plant the potentialities of imagination and creativity in both viewers and participants.
“(Virtual) leftovers, residues, remnants and recollections: from abstract thoughts to a specific example in Nida Art Colony” by dr. Vytautas Michelkevičius
What do artists bring with them and leave in the residency centre after a few months of stay? We could speak about two main tendencies in this so-called “economy of residues”. Material things most of the time travel with them; however, immaterial ones both travel and stay in the place and temporary community (of other fellows and staff) which has formed during these few months together.
Artists produce a great deal of (research) material, sketches, findings, drafts and crafts which might or might not develop into finished artworks. After one group of artists, another one comes and starts collecting sometimes very similar materials and developing similar topics. Since Nida Art Colony is located in a very specific place – Nature Park (inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage List because of the unique coastal lines and sand dunes) – lots of artists get inspired, impressed and seduced by nature and its ‘ready-mades.’ This is, most of the time, quite dangerous for their practice: because there is very limited array of things you can find and bring in the studio, your unfinished work becomes very similar to that of your fellow). Often, they start collecting elements from nature and never develop them into finished work due to limited time, the novelty of the environment, or over-excitement of the unique and semi-wild location. Therefore, after discussion with some artists we have already considered creating an open-source depository of started and never finished works, as well as research materials, so that other artists could develop them further. Unfortunately, this idea has stayed only as an idea.
Maybe it happened like this because usually an artist-in-residency centre is not a museum or a repository of artworks, but rather a vivid place of exchange for artists and their ideas, which stay only in virtual and immaterial forms.
Since the beginning of the residency programme in March 2011, we have hosted almost 300 artists. The most productive program thus far was the returning artists programme, which allowed artists to materialize their recollections of the residency and residues of the earlier processes into finished artworks.
One example of this productive process turning past (remnants and recollections) into future (projections and objects) happened during the curated residency programme in summer 2016, which has developed into the exhibition “Hybrid(...)scapes,” comprised of 9 new works from returning residents. They returned to Nida again after 1-4 years since their last stay and were in residence for 1-2 months. As a curator I re-invited artists (most of them 6 to 9 months before the residency) I liked to work with and asked them to develop a proposal which in the end came together in a smooth curatorial statement: “Hybrid(...)scapes merge when artists lift Nida’s resort skin and dispel the myth of its idyllic nature. Embodied in global streams, we enter the Curonian Spit as a constructed green museum – a park where historical (forestry) technologies and nature interplay.” The gone and returned artists managed in the exhibition to obfuscate the seasonal nature of Nida (summer mixes with winter), stretch time (something started three or five years ago becomes a material body now), and blur the distinction between a concrete site – Nida – and the global world (works produced from locally sourced material or issues have relevance across the globe). This is only one example of how immaterial memories and material artifacts from the past in the residency managed to be developed into a finalized exhibition, acting both as a documentation of the exhibition and a new community of the artists. In the end all the material works have been returned to their authors.
“Water Pioneer” by Satellietgroep
(JJJNNN) Sea sounds immediately spark your imagination. This field recording is a product of artistic research into climate change and the hybrid relationship of man and man-made nature made on de Zandmotor. This coastal landscape near The Hague consists of 21,5 million m3 of pleistocene sand from the bottom of the north sea, which is left to freely influence all coastal surroundings.
Mara and Max of the So Far Channel, experience from Lijang studios, China
We are recovering packrats. We've gotten better, but at one point it was a real problem. Picking up junk near our home in Berlin, or shrugging and taking on the castoffs of all the colleagues that were constantly moving away, had become a troubling addiction.
It's not like this anymore, but when we started working together around 2008/2009, there was so much great garbage around the streets of Berlin. No need to even dive dumpsters; folks would just set out furniture, vintage magazines, antique books, and old-but-functioning audio equipment on the street. Some of the time we would make art, musical instruments or kinetic devices out of the stuff we picked up, but most of the time they would collect in "piles of potential."
Those piles started to become oppressive, and honestly that is what compelled us finally to take our show on the road. Doing a KonMari-number on our home junk-collections, we began consider- ing using the collecting impulse as an excuse to explore abroad. The idea was to let the stuff we found in the places we traveled coalesce into an essential expression of the places themselves. That is, the things we found would tell us what they were to be, and we would "channel" them into artworks that would stay in the place they sprung from. During our latest residency in Southwest- ern China, we found ourselves building experimental antennas in sacred geometric shapes out of metal debris we found on the grounds. We left them there.
We have never been ones to hang on too tight to the products of our artistic activities. I guess we could try and sell things, but the administrative side of art is not why we're in this. Jobs are for money, art is for living.
“Ridin'” by Lisa Lipton
(JJJNNN) For this stoned slo-mo trip morphing into deconstructed indie, Lisa Lipton has distorted recordings of drum practice sessions and combined them with field recordings and samples. The piece reflects the time spent at the Secret Selfie residency, a Nova Scotia-based programme that specifically commissions artists to create audio self-portraits.
“Finding Purpose” by Dina Kafafi
Artist-in-residence programs suggest an expected flow: plans are developed which intertwine the artist’s practice, the residency coordinator, the host institution, and the surrounding community. Subsequently, the resident’s research culminates with a final ‘product’ within a given timeframe.
Townhouse’s residency program is more community based where the flow, plan, and the outcomesof the time spent are measured through the value of experiences lived rather than work produced. As one begins to experience the multiple layers of Cairo and grasps the city’s pace, conditions, meaning, politics, and its rhythms, the preconceived plans for work diverge from the resident’s experience of the city. To reconcile this, the residency’s open model lays in place a support system for artists to follow the inspiration and curiosities sparked by interactions with the city. Such a model for residencies allows newcomers to embrace and determine their paths and interests, often leading them towards hidden pockets of the city elucidating the importance of an interactive residency.
Indeed, in designing an interactive residency, one learns that hosting a community- focused residency changes the criteria set in the selection process, the kind of ideas discussed in preparation for the artists’ visits, and the activities and meetings planned. Ensuring a productive dialogue withsuch an intricate and complex place demands that the host provide a well-rounded support system and access to various networks that match the artists’ practice. On the other hand, such an open residency model requires a level of independence, a strong connection to one’s practice, and adaptability on the artist’s part. Cairo demands a strong discipline yet flexible process, one where the noise and chaos is not disruptive to the creative process and a loss of understanding is embraced until a temporary purpose unveils itself. For this very reason, the main criteria in selecting the residents are disciplined and developed practices, an ability to acclimatize to various environments, and a general openness to and fluidity in their exploration of the city.
Townhouse’s location in the midst of downtown Cairo imposes constant contact with the street and the people. As a result a natural dependency on surrounding communities develops, as residents familiarize themselves with their daily setting and seek a layered understanding of cultural dynamics, social norms, language and translations of the many differences faced.
The very fabric of Townhouse’s neighbourhood includes a wide medley of communities. This includes downtown Cairo’s eclectic working class who live, work and socialize in the surrounding alleys, which also house many cultural institutions and social enterprises that feed off of the energies of the vibrant street life. The downtown area has historically embraced Cairo’s intellectuals, activists and artists, as well as foreign communities who pass through the city, all of whom are seeking the authenticity of a city centre once inhabited by the country’s upper middle class. The flavours extracted from a walk through downtown today inspire nostalgia, as one is faced with dilapidated architectural masterpieces with a plethora of workshops, car mechanics, carpenters and random shops superimposed on once-magnificent building façades. Imagine a historical city center painted with poverty, underneath a layer of chaos and sensual abuse, all in the whiff of a street corner. But somehow there’s a symbiosis of the beautiful and wretched and as a newcomer allows preconceptions to dissolve, random pieces of information are collected with every experience, every multilingual conversation, every peculiarity… and the common thrill one feels while visiting a new place is no longer marred with the thought of how one can become productive under conditions which could easily be seen as restraints. But a constant thought veils every memory catalogued: how can one adapt his or her process to such a new pace, where time and people are moving quickly - as well as thoughts - but attempts to realize ideas are met with endless obstructions, cultural instructions, social deconstructions.
Maria Sideri came to Egypt, inspired by the life of the avant-garde artist, journalist, and feminist thinker Valentine de Saint Point, who worked alongside renowned Egyptian feminists Doriya Shaafik and Hoda Shaarawi. Inspired by the “social engagement of these women that consisted in teaching reading and writing to illiterate women and in contributing in various orphanages in Egypt,” Maria began her residency in Townhouse with the intention of further developing a body of artistic work titled “Vibrant Matters,” which encompasses her music, performance and writing practices. Through links made, investigative conversations and research in archives accessed while in Egypt, the residency led Maria to deepen her connection with Saint Point by initiating a voluntary project in partnership with the local NGO, Tadamon Community Centre. Tailored for young African female refugees and asylum seekers in Cairo, the project aims to develop creative music skills and promotes the art of sharing cultural experiences.
However, it wasn’t until after her three-month residency had ended that a steady flow, greater trust and positive developments began to develop between Maria and the group of girls she was working with in Tadamon. So she resettled her life in Cairo for another year in order to reach an outcome satisfying to the group’s process. “For 12 months whilst establishing the group, I have given my time and artistic expertise on a voluntary basis. I have built trusting relationships with the young women, who have demonstrated a hunger and passion to acquire new artistic languages, including choreographing, song writing and other performance skills. The themes we explore in our workshops are based on our shared lived experiences of being 'outsiders' in this specific cultural context (I am a Greek migrant, they are refugees from Sudan, Eritrea and other parts of Africa). Through our workshop sessions we will continue to explore shared experiences of language, culture, and womanhood. We also celebrate our unique position in society.”
Here, the community-based residency becomes more than a limited time spent developing one’s practice; it demands more of the resident to gain a trusting place within a community in order to strategize a productive and meaningful exercise where their practice and the community’s needs overlap. In this case, Maria’s group invested in composing a series of songs highlighting their shared experiences and establishing their place within Egyptian society through a music series titled “Hello World.”
Finding one’s purpose in such a place - a place very much stuck in its present, constantly yearning for a deep, almost illusionary past and in great fear of its eminent future - poses existential wonderings for residents conditioned to produce under more forgiving circumstances. Production is not the core reason they have come to this place, however. A need to contribute to the present in a meaningful way emerges, whether through knowledge sharing in a space or touching the lives of a sub-community or lending skill to a platform supporting segments of Cairo’s varied dwellers; the fulfillment from time spent in the city is now measured through the impact of such socializations. Finding a relevance and adapting one’s practice to become a vessel through which their present gains a purpose is not a necessary skill acquired by every successful artist, but it is a human characteristic necessary to genuinely tap into such surroundings.
Joran Koster, a young Dutch designer whose practice predominantly investigates hacking cultures through his involvement with the Fablabs in Rotterdam, managed to penetrate a very different social circle that also exists in the Townhouse neighborhood. An instant connection sparked between Joran and the Cairo Hackerspace, who temporarily inhabited the studio space adjacent to his own in Townhouse’s main building. He was also matched with Ice Cairo, who were interested in Joran’s background and invited him to activate their space with the intention of sharing knowledge and collaborating on a series of projects. He led a few workshops tailored for local innovators and simultaneously invested time building a stronger relationship with members of the Hackerspace. The creative energies shared by this group of young, enthusiastic innovators opened up a wide range of possibilities for Joran. Through their conversations, Joran absorbed enough information and leads to explore the city and allow an outlet for his curiosities about the apparent hacking culture to which he was instantly drawn.
Together they organized a “Hack-scout” in Cairo’s infamous Friday Market, filled with a wide array of old and new objects, trinkets, gadgets, antiques, furniture and more. By the end of his residency period, Joran had created a visual mapping of all the hacks he had observed within the Downtown neighborhood. He launched the “Hackmap” through a physical tour of the various hacks found along the route highlighted in the map. “The aim for the project was to name and understand the creativity involved with these street hacks and to share these values for the people who don’t see the creativity behind it.” Joran left behind a digital and physical trace of this document, which continues to spark conversations between him and members of Cairo’s hacker community. Moreover, this exercise renewed his visual lens, which identifies and appreciates resourcefulness and creativitiesthat are commonly overlooked by local communities accustomed to interacting with such hacks in their daily lives. “After Egypt I decided I wanted to be able to observe my own country, ‘The Known,’ the same way as the ‘Unknown.’ Cairo was a big influence on my practice; I came back [to Rotterdam] with the desire to maintain the same curiosity I had in Egypt.”
If not measured through an actual work or production, where does the value of such a residency lie? Although short-lived, the safe space created where the visitor shares their practice through a series of interactions and organized activities with local communities imprints traces of this moment of openness in the collective memories of both the artist and his/her acquaintances. When separated, both initiator and receiver reflect on their process, which revolved around things learned from the other, and the very obvious ‘otherness’ highlighted through their interactions. In Joran’s case, it’s the otherness he found within himself when interacting with the unknown, which inspired a new mode of developing his own practice within the boundaries of the known. For Maria it was more an exploration of each individual’s otherness in a common place, empowering each person through the comfort of knowing their differences are celebratory qualities that can be shared creatively. The resident’s footprint left behind becomes a new layer of memory that lives on in the city through the community members they have touched. And the artist’s reflective process post-residency is equally influential in his or her development as an individual and practicing artist.
“Portrait of a Cow” by Rhona Mühlebach and William Aikman
(JJJNNN) The thick Scottish accent of Melissa Sinclair and the typically British tradition of prize animals arouses a sense of locality. It also draws an interesting parallel between the art world and the theme 'all that art'. As the owner talks about grooming and exhibiting, and the inevitable death of the award-winning highland cow Una Ruadh 49th of Pollok.
“Artist Residencies: Art Making and the Renegotiation of Global Tensions with Local Realities” by Francisco Guevara
In a world imbued by nostalgia for “better times” when the historical roots of conflict are often forgotten, the questions of the role of artworks are always relevant. It is important to look beyond the great systems of institutionalization, such as museums and galleries, and to start unfolding the complex production processes and the systems of circulation of ideas feeding into the art world.
While trying to understand the globalized art world, we will soon stumble with the obsolescence of mega-exhibitions, such as international biennials, which have become stale in content and rigid in format. In response, global curatorial discourses are concerned with stimulating and making the systems of dissemination of art more dynamic, focusing on the de-centralization and contextualization of artworks by identifying local social issues and moving them into gallery spaces, but not necessarily benefitting the affected communities.
It is no coincidence that artist residencies have become central to the art world; although small, the dynamic, multidisciplinary, and socially engaging nature of these spaces has become an answer to the scarcity of resources around the globe. Additionally, they optimize production costs, add the symbolic value of “authenticity” to an artwork, and add validity to the artist. Therefore, larger art institutions such as museums, galleries, and universities are now relying on local infrastructure around the world for art production, putting artist-in-residence programs at the center of the tensions between global forces and local realities.
But from the opposite perspective, how is the art produced in such spaces affected by local realities? For starters, the undeniable heritage of colonial expansion around the world has determined certain patterns of the global circulation of artists in a mostly closed circuit of privilege. Nevertheless, artist residencies functioning as an alternative support system for art have not necessarily followed these Western paradigms. In Mexico, for instance, Arquetopia has become a reference in the residency field because it places local arts development as priority. In order to contribute, regulate and renegotiate such patterns, Arquetopia develops interchange through residencies that focus on identifying conflict in the creative and exchange processes. In a proactive way, each project renegotiates relations of power by examining artistic purpose, context, and the identification process of participating artists (both local and foreign), as well as history, culture, and politics. In many ways, Arquetopia serves as a mediator, interlocutor, facilitator, and curator. Through a negotiation process facilitated by Arquetopia, foreign artists exchange skills and knowledge with local schools, art studios, museums, etc. In return, they gain insights and experiences making art in diverse and stimulating cultural environments in Mexico.
- Bolton, L. (2010). Facing the Other: Ethical Disruption and the American Mind (Horizons in Theory and American Culture). Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press.
- Guevara, F. (2009). Our Mission. Julio 2, 2016, de Arquetopia AC Sitio web: http://www.arquetopia.org/about-us/our-mission
- Guevara, F., & Ortega, E. (2013). ¿Criollo yo?: Residuos post-coloniales en la gestión de la cultura en México. Magazyn Sztuki, 4. 49-57.
- Holland, S.P. (2012). The Erotic Life of Racism. Durham & London: Duke University Press.
- Pinder, K. N. (2002). Race-ing Art History. New York: Routledge.
- Schama, S. (2006). The Power of Art. New York: Ecco.
- Smith, T. . (2012). Biennials and Infrastructural Shift – Part II. Julio 5, 2016, de Art Asia Pacific Sitio web: http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/80BiennialsAndInfrastructuralShiftPartII
- Vision, Mission & Values. Julio 20, 2016, de Res Artis Sitio web: http://www.resartis.org/en/about/about_res_artis/vision_mission__values/
“Struggle & Emerge” by Lakker
(JJJNNN) Exclusively created from samples of the Dutch National AV archive, this concept album by British duo Lakker reflects on the relationship between the Dutch and the sea. It incorporates radio broadcasts of the flood of 1953 which claimed over 1800 lives and of the day after the Nazis inundated the Wieringermeer Polder in 1945 in an act of desperation before retreating. The album has been released on the Belgian techno label R&S Records, inserting this residency-specific piece into the wider electronic music context.
Olivia Joret, experience from Mustarinda, Finland
Why did I go to Mustarinda, an artists’ residency on the Artic Circle, hosted near an old forest reserve in Finland? It was the urge to be an artist, to be an artist again, which, even if it might well be a mere continuation of an old wound that is somehow failing to heal, still doesn’t leave me indifferent.
Even in an age of professionalisation, we’d likely acknowledge that careers don’t answer for everything. Being an “art professional” during the day cannot really equate with being an artist for good or for real, or whatever better motive. - Where do we go after hours? There has to be hope if we are going to invent desperation.
We are indeed not prone to desperation, when we are alone. Or at least, we don’t know. When we are really alone, there is no one to tell. Not even our own shadow. And there is no way around them: our shadows, our fellow-artists, our scene. We need them. We can’t be an artist without them. Even in the forest. Especially in the forest.
So it’s a wolf-pack. Howling together, cry for cry, an initiation. I would say this is so. Then again, there are times when this idea seems grotesque even to everyone involved, and we can only laugh it off. It is in these moments that we are free. In these moments, we also make work.
That morning of August 2nd 2011, I went with nothing but a pencil for art supplies and found my 10m2 studio to be much like a cell, which was what it had in fact been, in the days when the house was a sanatorium. Instead of the fear of the white canvas, I experienced something like the fear of the white centripetal studio space, with me, the caged artist, as its unescapable focal point. I felt naked. I wasn’t naked. The empty walls made me feel naked. So I started to cover them with pencil marks. Like scratching. Like prisoners count time. The sound calmed me down. It felt good, making something. Something that had a purpose. The purpose was to cover the walls. Or hug them. And make them all furry and warm and moist, like a bear’s chest. Or how to hug a wall. “Musta- rinda” means black chest in Finnish. Of a bear. Not a real bear. A bear ghost. In the process, the scratching looked like a plasma slowly penetrating the walls. A smokescreen. An ash cloud. A fur. Residents came in and out: “How are you doing, Olivia?” - “Good, I’m finishing the Northern wall”. And we would sit and stare.
Some days later we painted everything white.
Strange how we have come to associate the prefix “eco” with nature, the wild, the untamed, and yet it has everything to do with agency, the domestic - not to forget it literally means “house”.
If agency is the vital urge of a living creature to live what there is to live in the world, “work” would simply be a manifestation of the fact that work has happened, of life itself, that someone has lived, has made something. Calling it art would be a secondary discourse, an advocacy of sorts.
“Donaumeer Jungfrau” by Sander Strauß
(JJJNNN) Mysterious contribution about the Danube mermaid, apparently made during a residency in Slovakia. Is this an interpretation of the piece by the artists' namesake Johan Strauß II? Are they related? Did Sander fall for the charms of the mermaid and disappear?
Interview with Laura Welzenbach, Eyebeam, NYC
(Bojana Panevska) While thinking about this issue’s topic ‘All that art’, Eyebeam was one of the first residencies that crossed my mind because you operate a bit differently from other residency programs, especially in terms of what kind of art (projects) you are supporting. Maybe we can start the interview with introducing Eyebeam and the different programs you are offering.
(Laura Welzenbach) Eyebeam is a non-profit studio for technology by artists; we support research and projects in this field through residencies, education and events. We have 4 different residency programs that serve this mission: research, impact, student and project residencies. Especially the research and impact format have a long term focus, and I think that’s the difference - to not only be project oriented but to have long term and sustainable commitment with the artists. The research residency is a one year program, and the impact residency varies from 1 to 3 years. Research residents explore and extend their practice in this time. We provide full support in building communities, connections and networking opportunities through events, mentorship, field trips and studio visits, production support etc. This allows the residents to dig deep into their research, to critically reflect what they did so far and how it can develop further. The goal is to have a clear understanding of how their artistic practice could look like in 3-5 years. The long term strategy is the goal and maybe some of the things they start here at Eyebeam will be implemented after they leave the residency, but we built a base here. The impact residency is our alumni program; 1-2 years after they have left the research residency, they can come back with a proposal. Scaling their research and their practice to a community focused project, program or initiative is the purpose here. This can be an after school program, or a conference like Radical Networks for example.
(BP) The time the residents spend at Eyebeam makes an enormous difference in how the projects are approached and developed, especially with the impact residency. I’m saying this, because very often, I hear from artists that if they could come back to a residency to finish their project, or if the residency time would have been structured differently, than the development of their work would also have been different. The structure you are having at Eyebeam seems to be very fruitful for the participating artists and I’m curious to hear some examples of artistic projects.
(LW) One of our current impact residents is a great example. Tahir Hemphill joined Eyebeam as a resident a few years ago, and he worked on a rap lyric database. This became one of his tools to create content for his artwork. He came back to Eyebeam with the idea to use this rap almanac to teach youth. The Eyebeam education department immediately recognized the potential for this. It clearly can become an accessible way to teach kids a skillset around creative coding, reading and analyzing big data, critical thinking and so much more. We then started a trial session here at Eyebeam as an after school program. With this rap almanac, he addressed questions like, what is big data? How do you analyze it? How can you work with data visualization? How does code look like? What does it mean to use, what information do you include and what do you exclude? All these tech approaches also bring in a bigger ethical, moral and social discussion into the teaching materials. In this case social impact, criticality, media criticism, and rap are tools to convey these contents.
(BP) What age were the participants in the first round that you did and how did the work evolve?
(LW) I think they were between 14-16 years old, high school students. At the beginning our education team, Tahir and his team were able to explore questions like: What do the kids want to learn, what are the difficulties they have, what gets their attention and makes them excited? The first workshops were amazing, it was really fruitful, we learned a lot and had great new input for our education development. Now we need to think about outreach, work on an online platform to open source the curriculum and also implement a distribution system that is mainly focused towards teachers. To teach teachers will allow us to scale the program to the next level and we’ll have a much bigger reach than only teaching one class. This is a model that we want to adapt for different programs. Kaho Abe and Ramsey Nasser, both also Impact Residents, built an educational program called “Playable Fashion”. They have a background in computer programming and building wearable technology through games. They teach programming, basic computer science and electronics with building your own wearable controller for games. We can apply the same teaching the teachers strategy to their educational program.
(BP) What I find quite special is the way you reach the community after the residency. Usually ‘community focus’ is understood as the artist works directly with the community and creates an artwork with them or from that experience. While in Eyebeam it is the other way around - first the project is developed, tested and then brought to the community. Especially the two examples you just mentioned, they give direct empowerment to the community.
(LW) That is definitely the goal with providing this room for exploration.
(BP) Thinking of the two examples, how important is technology in the application process? Since technology is constantly evolving, our understanding of what technology is or can be, is equally changing. Do you leave the definition a bit open and see what kind of potential projects have?
(LW) Eyebeam defines technology differently from most. The most exciting forms of technologies aren’t just gadgets, but strategies, processes and ideas that have the potential to change the way we live. Past residents have focused their research on such topics as race, painting, or scaling—all as forms of technology. Macon Reed one of our current research residents has a traditional art and sculpture practice. She builds beautiful and colorful installations and uses them to create environments for conversations, dialogue and interaction. This is her technology – technology as social engagement, as social installation. Her artwork is the framework for the real-life in person interaction. With this tool for empowerment and the topics she works with she addressed our last years open call around POWER very specifically.
For the Research Residency we do have an open call once a year and the theme becomes more and more important. The first thing we look at in an application, is how does the applicant address the theme. This is the priority and the applicant loses the attention of the jury if they don’t highlight the theme. Technology only for spectacle and entertainment is not interesting for us.
Macon’s perspective around technology and what it means nowadays was relevant to us and we wanted to bring her point of view to our technology art bubble. We need these conversations, because technology expands in every sense. So yes, technology can become an installation that is made out of cardboard.
(BP) Founded in 1997 Eyebeam has hosted many artists, researchers, educators and hackers. What are some of your highlights and success stories?
(LW) There are so many successful projects and ideas that we helped unleash in the world. Here are 2 examples: Ayah Bdeir developed the first littleBits prototypes at Eyebeam. LittleBits are magnetic modular electronics which snap together. They allow kids and adults to explore electronics in a very accessible way and it encourages experimentation. Ayah started as a research resident here at Eyebeam, she tested her ideas, explored and researched the tools. After she left Eyebeam she founded her own company with this outcome.
The Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon is another Eyebeam success story. This one-day event changed the content around feminism and art on Wikipedia and therefore in the World Wide Web in general. The first edit-a-thon took place at Eyebeam. Now it is hosted at the MoMA in New York and organizations from all over the world participate online on this particular day to post new content about art and feminism.
Also artists like Shirin Neshat, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sanford Biggers, Zachary Lieberman, Carolee Schneemann, Golan Levin, Cory Arcangel and many more were residents at Eyebeam. So many great ideas came to life here!
(BP) Apart from these success stories, the reality is that sometimes projects do not work out, no matter how much we try or what we do. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the project isn’t good, maybe it was not the right time, maybe you didn’t get the the results you wanted. Do you have an example of a situation like that?
(LW) It is always like that, projects change constantly, very rarely they become the same thing as artists originally imagined and applied with at our Open Call. Artists have a clear vision about how their work should look like and they will try as much as possible to get as close as possible. Experienced artists know that it’s not always possible to get everything exactly the way they imagined it. The work has to adjust throughout the process, it has to change and adapt, because you are always facing different challenges and you need to react to that. It is very interesting to see how different people work differently with these challenges, opportunities and circumstances, especially here at Eyebeam where we have one year to explore things together and where we have experience with work in progress. We try to be a productive supporter throughout this journey. We are a safe space for work in progress, for things to change, also for discussing failure and learning from it.
(BP) Thinking of changes in the society now and in the future, how do you see, not only the future of Eyebeam, but the projects that will come your way? Do you see art and technology going in a more radical direction, becoming more anarchistic, or more institutionalized? What is your opinion on that?
(LW) Commercial Technology and technology at Eyebeam serve and influence each other but they are two different things. I think they have two different approaches. We support open, just, relevant, critical, activist, artistic and inventive ideas around and with technology which is not connected to commercial success. Long term impact drives us, not quarterly profit. Getting out of your comfort zone in all possible ways and facing the unexpected and unimaginable - that’s the goal in creation. That’s the challenge we wanna build and face.
To accomplish that I see three areas of action: The first step is we try to open source and publish all our content online. All the work that our residents create must have an open source component. This is a big part of Eyebeam’s identity and we’re very active in this field. We need to expand and learn more about the next two components: Distribution and Engagement.
The second step therefore raises questions like: how do you reach an audience that is beyond the people who are already interested in your work? Making something accessible – in our understanding open source it and publish it online – is not enough, you want people to read it, use it, interact with it. So how can people find out about it who aren’t already open to these topics? Consequently we can do this through active outreach to an audience we usually won’t reach, people who have no interest in what we do – yet. This includes youth and adults as daily visitors of our programs, but also people from finance, business, science, tech, politic and policy making. I think there’s so much that these two worlds or this parallel universe can learn from each other and we can and hopefully will be the liaison.
“Sculptural Speakers” by Benjamin Nelson
(JJJNNN) Sculptural Speakers is an evolving piece, as sounds cycle in and out of phase and rotation with each other while also interacting with room reflections/reverberation, noise, and listener head position, never sounding exactly the same twice. As a result, this recording is literally a reflection of the space and time in V2_, where it was presented. It's a sonic leftover of Benjamin Nelson’s residency.
“Art in Science Labs and Beyond” by Irène Hediger
The artists-in-labs (ail) program develops and facilitates residencies for artists in scientific laboratories. Our concept is to define art and science collaborations as a distinct curatorial and cultural practice that can engage the public through exhibitions, conferences and workshops.
One example of such an explorative process is the ongoing collaboration since 2011 between the artist Christina Della Giustina, the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow, Forest and Landscape Research WSL and the artists-in-labs program.
The artist Della Giustina collaborated with scientists in the field of long-term climate data, which is collected with sensors that measure the water cycles in trees. Della Giustina was fascinated by the coexistence of dissimilar elements in trees and the on-going circuit of processes which have their own rules and timings. Her inquiry and questions resulted in two artist books, “Tree 9-2071” and “Tree 2-395”. Additionally, Della Giustina explored the potential of sound as an abstract and evocative medium. Based on data collection and technologies of the Long-term Forest Ecosystem Research Programme LWF, Della Giustina explored and used artistic and scientific experiments to develop her ideas and works. This was the start of her on-going series you are variations, which transforms ecophysiological processes into tangible events.
To explore new concepts for art education and exhibitions, the ail program regularly initiates projects based on ail residencies. This is exemplified by the “Agora” project1 or the exhibition “Quantum of Disorder”.2 These engagements enable artists and scientists of the ail program to continue their collaboration and to bring it into the public realm, as with Della Giustina’s project you are variations. Based on the artist’s idea to return the scientific data back to the region where the data was first collected but in “a new form”, the collaboration extended to an alpine village in Switzerland. Together with the Regional Nature Park, artists, musicians and scientists, an explorative art-science project week was developed for local students at the fourth grade level. The highlight of the week about trees and climate change was the development of the composition ”Nous sommes des arbres - you are variations,” later performed by the pupils and the musicians at the Montreux Jazz Festival 2015.
(Engaging a Diverse Audience)
In collaboration with the French Embassy in Switzerland and as part of a worldwide art programme for the climate forum COP21 in Paris 2015, the ail program invited the scientists of WSL and Della Giustina to develop a version of you are variations for the Botanical Garden of Zurich. Using the data of the three climatic regions in the tropical houses of the Botanical Garden as well as including data from the trees outside, Della Giustina created an immersive site-specific sound-light installation. A talk by the artist and scientist, Andreas Rigling about their collaboration and co-constructed knowledge in relation to climate issues stimulated the discussion with the audience, while the future of the world was discussed in Paris.
(Expanding (Art) Boundaries)
The focus of the ail residencies is on exchange, processes and the further development of the artists’ initial project ideas. This provides time and space for the art works to concretise beyond the residency period. We observe on a long term basis that the individual arts practice is expanded and enhanced through new knowledge, different perspectives and further methods developed during the residencies. Innovative ideas and questions are generated and frequently lead to practice-based PhDs or further (research) projects with scientists. Last but not least, novel networks arising from the residencies expand the artists’ boundaries and activities beyond the usual art-related spaces into new territories, themes and communities, leading to an extended audience.
Or, as Della Giustina describes it in our new publication artists-in-labs: Recomposing Art and Science: “This acquisition of an arsenal of tools for composition in itself might describe one of the methodologies at stake: that is, not to reduce oneself to one means, one perspective, or one outcome, but rather to describe the same tree continuously, simultaneously and differently, again and again.“3
- 1 grant by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF 2013-2015
- 2 co-curated by the ail program and the Museum Haus Konstruktiv http://www.hauskonstruktiv.ch/enUS/exhibitions/exhibition-archive/2016/-/events/archives-2015/2015/quantum-of-disorder.htm
- 3 Christina Della Giustina, “you are variations: An On-Going Series of Events,” in artists-in- labs: Recomposing Art and Science, Eds. Irène Hediger and Jill Scott, (Vienna: DeGruyter, 2016, p. 35.)
“Permanent Vacation” by Abe Vink
(JJJNNN) Liminal Residue was a residency programme that explored the remains of transitional states – the creative process in spaces undergoing change. Recorded in a temporary space looking out on Museumplein in Amsterdam, this piece by young composer Abe Vink reflects on his stay in three acts.
Ibi Ibrahim, experience from Beirut Art Residency
I was part of the third round of participants at the Beirut Art Residency (BAR). As an Arab artist living in the West, I felt the urge to undergo a residency in the Middle East. My project dealt with the iconic Lebanese singer Fairuz, one of the most widely admired singers in the Arab world, also known as the ‘Neighbour to the Moon’ and the ‘Jewel of Lebanon’. When I look back at what I achieved, I can only be thankful that I was allowed to undergo such an experience; as an outsider, I came to Lebanon to spend only six weeks tackling Lebanon’s most valued treasure through the support of a local art residency.
During my residency at BAR I experimented with new mediums. Prior to this residency, I barely worked in video or installations. What I recall to be most helpful is the presence of a young management team that made communication easier. They were able to connect with my work and views, and offer helpful tips and critique. Those critiques continued to follow me as I finished my residency period and departed Lebanon. While I have yet to develop the installation piece I created in the residency, I have found myself more focused on developing other works related to Fairuz.
This was also my first residency where I was engaging with other artists who were at the residency in the same period. At each residency period, BAR welcomes three international artists to live and work together for a period of six weeks. My Turkish and Belgian fellow residents and I shared more than just a kitchen. We explored Beirut together, had wild Lebanese nights, went on art supply shopping trips, stressed over our yet-to-be-developed work through our daily engagements, and chatted about the constant changes in our direction. As I look back now, I realize how intimate and solid those six weeks were.
I recall that I experienced moments of doubts as I found myself inexperienced technically in making videos, but through my constant engagement with locals within my new environment, I was able to collaborate with a local artist in making my video piece. The results of this work made my experience at the residency much more valuable and inspired me to continue collaborating with local artists for future residencies. The reaction I received during the open studio from the local public is certainly significant; I once again relate it to being an Arab artist living in the West, and this was a major moment for me, to be able to receive feedback from a nearly all Arab audience.
To sum things up, I could say that there is work I created that I am doubtful about. On the other hand, there is work that I continue to develop and that continues to inspire me for future ideas. There also is the open possibility of collaborating with local artists during other future residencies and there is a firm belief that the location of each residency is a primary aspect of the work created.
In my case as an artist often inspired and moved by memories and aspects of his culture, there is a lot to say about my time at BAR. Since that experience, I have held two art residencies in the Middle East, but I do not think I could ever compare it to the warmth I experienced at the Beirut Art Residency through the melodies of Fairuz.
“Impractical Hydropathy” by Julian Weaver
(JJJNNN) Cork in Ireland has a tradition of hydropathy: water cure. During his residency at The Guesthouse in Cork in 2016, Julian Weaver created Impractical Hydropathy, demonstrating the effects of massage on mineralised water inside the body. The sounds were created using bespoke carbonated mineral water, a sports bottle and lavalier microphones. Besides transporting the listener into a microscopic storm inside a bottle of mineral water, this piece also illustrates how the specific, historical context of a residency might influence a work.
Erna van Sambeek, experience from Culture Vultures, Morocco
It has been almost a year since I left Seffrou, Morocco, where I was on a month-long Textile artist residency hosted by Culture Vultures. Four other female artists took part in the residency as well. We lived and worked in the medina of Seffrou. It was like living in the past: handcars and donkeys, small, crowed streets, a noisy market, and artisans in tiny workshops making everything by hand. One of the aims of the residency was to get Western artists in touch with various Moroccan textile artisans, like djalabba makers, weavers, belt-knotters and embroiderers. The aim was an interchange of knowledge and craftsmanship, and to get inspired by each other.
My plan was to execute a community art project: an outside temporary carpet made out of garbage. A bare spot in the medina appeared to be the perfect place for this. “You need a facilitator’, Culture Vultures director Jess Stephens told me, when I spoke to her about my plan. She grabbed her phone and called Brahim Daldali, who speaks English and knew a lot about the medina-life, as well as Moroccan culture. He put me in touch with local people and helped me find the right way to communicate my idea to them. Later I found out that he is also an enthusiastic and fantastic storyteller.
Kids were eager to collect the garbage, and the neighbouring women were enthusiastic about creating patterns out of that garbage. The first carpet we made worked out great. Unfortunately, it was used as a soccer field that following night and got ruined. An outdoor carpet apparently lives only one day. A second one would need attention and to be seen straight away, I learned.
As a finale of our residency, we organised an open-studio route. My contribution was of course a carpet made out of garbage, and we would present the carpet to the public, with Brahim telling a story.
That afternoon an impressive crowd of over a hundred people slowly gathered around the carpet. Brahim started to tell a story about a foreign woman who came on her magic carpet to a culture she did not know. The people of this culture welcomed her; they were kind, friendly and very generous to her. When it was time for her to leave, she gave them a present: she turned rubbish into something beautiful; she gave them a carpet made out of garbage.
While Brahim told his story, I handed out tangerines to the crowd. Children collected the orange peels and placed them into the carpet. They gave the carpet its final touch. It was magical: all those people, the togetherness, the friendship, the appreciation for the work and each other, on this rough spot and in this very poor neighbourhood in the medina of Seffrou.
The carpet lasted a day, the story ten minutes, the experience, for me personally, a lifetime. I have no idea what it meant for the participants. But I vividly remember Rahma, holding both my hands in hers, saying: ‘shukran, shukran, shukran...(thank you, thank you, thank you.)’
“Lingering Sound” by Wu Siou Ming
(JJJNNN) During a residency in the Taiwanese countryside, in the township of Xiluo, Wu Sioi Ming recorded locals playing piano, erhu and guitar, as well as the sounds of several public places such as the riverside and the market. Interrupted by a harsh digital noise, this piece serves as a document of the energy of and potential resistance by the local population in an area that is dealing with problems related to population overflow.
“Thoughts on production, professionalism, and what constitutes (art)work and not (art)work” by Matthew Evans and Shinobu Akimoto
Residency For Artists On Hiatus (RFAOH) is an artwork and a virtual residency for artists not making art. Like other physical residencies, RFAOH has a set of criteria: residents are expected to periodically report online about their endeavours which are not art (nor will be in the future), to be carried out wherever suits them. At the end of their term, residents submit a final report to reflect on their experiences. A modest stipend is paid for their participation.
One of the questions (or conditions) that RFAOH addresses is the conundrum of professionalism in the arts where we, as artists, must exist – and subsist – within a wider free market economy in which a prerequisite for professionalism is monetary remuneration for (art)work done. At the same time, one urgent and necessary aspect of contemporary art practice is its ability to exist outside the standard logic of free market capitalism. Artwork X could be worth millions of dollars or be landfill, depending on circumstances external to itself.1
Real cultural capital is visibility through the investiture of the institutions separating art from all other creative endeavours. Simultaneously, the free market of ideas has exploded where artists and non-artists alike have access to the means to produce cultural content, and, with the Internet, an audience far vaster than ever before – visibility is cheap. Even the “artist residency” may have become accessible to anyone who can afford to participate.
Many of our residents have found their way to us while negotiating this dilemma, brought about by the undervaluation of their (art)work as cultural producers and the devaluation of their cultural capital. For some, their time at RFAOH is a calculated break and a chance to regroup or do other things. For others it is a way forward and hopefully a way to re-imagine/re-frame their relationships to the institutions that define their professional life, or to re-integrate their creative lives with their lives as arts professionals. While they undertake alternative non-art, but no less creative “production”, RFAOH hopes to provide a kind of alternate institutional reification, and a connection to an international community of artists (on-hiatus) who are also negotiating this condition.
Here are a few examples of “non-art” work “achieved” by our past residents, and/or what they are up to since leaving RFAOH. All our residents’ on-hiatus and final reports are archived on our site.
Milena Kosec expanded her knowledge and experience with organic gardening; Momentech engaged in daily online group meditation and compiled a resource on Zen and meditation; Ryan Ringer opened a café bar in Toronto, Canada; Kelly Malec-Kosak re- wrote a fine art craft major curriculum as the Chair of Fine Arts at the Columbus College of Art and Design; Mary Kroetsch finished reading all her mother’s diaries untouched since her passing years ago, and is now back in a BFA program herself; Farid Rakun returned as a member of the Indonesian collective ruangrupa, and is busy attending conferences and biennales worldwide; Batool Mohamed, who was reconsidering her career by entering an MBA program apparently continues an art practice (we have seen her name in a prestigious catalogue where she had kindly added RFAOH in her bio); a few others, unknown.
- 1 Dave Hickey famously wrote: “Art and money never touch. They exist in parallel universes of value at comparable levels of cultural generalization: Art does nothing to money but translate it. Money does nothing to art but facilitate its dissemination and buy the occasional bowl of Wheaties for an artist or art dealer. Thus, when you trade a piece of green paper with a picture on it, signed by a bureaucrat, for a piece of white paper with a picture on it, signed by an artist, you haven’t bought anything, since neither piece of paper is worth anything. You have translated your investment and your faith from one universe of value to another.” Dave Hickey, “Dealing,” in Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy (Art Issues Press, 1997), 109.
“Little Birds and a Demon, A Live Transmission” by Grace Schwindt
(JJJNNN) Oil stains and the traces they leave not only on the birds but also on the narrator who finds and cares for them. Commissioned by Pavilion in Leeds, UK and transmitted to public listening stations in the UK; live broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm and via telephone line. Performed by Oksana Mavrodii, Olivia Salvadori, and Tom Williams.
Ernesto Bautista, experience from ARCUS Project, Japan
As a visual artist and filmmaker, I have done artist-in-residence programs throughout my career, such as the Residency of the Americas at the Darling Foundry, Montréal (CA) and the Fellowship for Emerging Artists from the Harpo Foundation at the Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe (USA). While writing down these experiences, I am doing my first residency in Japan at the ARCUS Project. During each AiR Program, in my regard, there always is the possibility to create a new work. An AiR can be a good opportunity to do research or to develop a process, but it depends very much on what you are looking for.
The work created in a different context should always involve reflection on signs of identity and development of that context before realizing it. This can be a big challenge, which very often is good. Every context is different, but all of them can help me to understand my own. We have to remember that the idea of a residency comes from the basic dynamic of the artist subtracted from his or her original context, and put in a new one. It is a way to create international languages for a global community and to get involved in a new practice. This process helps to nurture the vision of the artist and to open the knowledge and perspective straight through the experience. Following this line, then, there is no bad residency or good residency, as long the artist maintains awareness of how this process influences his or her creative process. During my time at ARCUS, I have received great support and been involved in a completely new culture. Since my project at ARCUS, I am trying to understand my own culture from different perspectives.
However, institutionalization has been one of the phenomena happening inside every residency, due to money or prestige issues, and each residency has responded in a different way. Institutions can push an artist very hard to generate an outcome, because in most cases there is a political reason. An institution, for example, needs a specific outcome for justification to the funding bodies. This does not necessarily affect your work. A residency is just a scaffold or a framework: I do not think a curator, a museum, a gallery or an institution should be the main purpose for creating an artwork. They are part of the equation, but neither the result nor the origin. That is why I believe it is important to keep in mind from whom we are expecting approval: ourselves or the institutions? I think doing any kind of art project is always a negotiation, from the moment a third party gets involved with your work. We make art with a vision, and since the moment we base it on any kind of system, we are professionally compromised to be aware of that and move upon it, even if we are reinventing it.
Station to Station is an online magazine of DutchCulture, focusing on international collaboration through the lens of artists practices and residencies. To be able to fully experience the audio contributions, we recommend the use of a computer.
- Editors: Marie Fol and Léon Kruijswijk — http://transartists.org/about/team
- Main editor: Bojana Panevska — http://transartists.org/about/team
- Copy editor: Michelle Oing
- Audio contributions curated by: Arif Kornweitz and Reinier Klok — http://jajajaneeneenee.com/
- Design: Miquel Hervás Gómez — http://miquelhervas.com/
- Web development: Ulises Soriano Palao — http://noordmaison.com
- Robert Hamelijnck — http://www.fuckinggoodart.nl/
- Vytautas Michelkevičius — http://nidacolony.lt/en/residence
- Mara and Max — http://sofarchannel.com and http://www.lijiangstudio.org/
- Dina Kafafi — https://www.facebook.com/Townhouse-Gallery-215106991849440/
- Francisco Guevara — http://www.arquetopia.org/
- Olivia Joret — http://www.mustarinda.fi/en
- Laura Welzenbach — https://eyebeam.org/
- Irène Hediger — http://www.artistsinlabs.ch/en/
- Ibi Ibrahim — http://www.ibiibrahim.com/ and http://www.beirutartresidency.com/
- Erna van Sambeek — http://www.ernavansambeek.nl/ and http://culturevulturesfez.org/
- Matthew Evans and Shinobu Akimoto — http://residencyforartistsonhiatus.org/
- Ernesto Bautista — http://ernestobautista.net/ and http://www.arcus-project.com/en/residence/
- Satellietgroep — http://www.satellietgroep.nl/
- Elise Luong — http://www.undecided-productions.com/
- Sander Strauß
- Benjamin Nelson — http://sndpl.com/projects/v2_/
- Rhona Mühlebach and William Aikman — https://soundcloud.com/user-55061371/portrait-of-a-cow
- Ralph Barrientos — https://sowingseed.wordpress.com/2015-16/
- Lakker — http://revivethis.org/Sessions/lakker-sound-and-vision/
- Wu Siou Ming — https://soundcloud.com/shycacti
- Lisa Lipton — http://www.frankiefrankie.com/
- Julian Weaver — http://www.hypo.io/
- Grace Schwindt — http://www.graceschwindt.net
- Abe Vink — https://soundcloud.com/abevink
Issue launched in Amsterdam on the 8th of February 2017 at fanfare.
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