AiR Treffen Day 2 Künstlerhaus Dortmund

AiR Treffen Day 2 Künstlerhaus Dortmund

October 15, 2010

Co-working is in, networking is out!

Day 2 at Künstlerhaus Dortmund took a more abstract turn, discussing the ways in which AiR programs generate new useful concepts and structures such as "co-working structures" and "alternative academies".




AiR autonomy

The AiR concept indeed seems to be granted a privilege of relative autonomy. There is no general formula to which an AiR program should obey. Except from the general 'offering time and space' the AiR concept is rather undefined. Each AiR program in the end revolves around this freedom for hosts, as well as for guests, to fill in the AiR program as they wish.

This freedom potentially enhances an institutional freedom too. Established institutions are willing to connect to AiR programs because this might open up new possibilities within their own fixed organization grid. And AiR providers from their side may connect to any institution, from which their program may benefit.

AiR embedded

AiR centers like to express their independency. Because of that, we seem to forget that AiR programs are always embedded in other structures: art production, art education, economic structures, financial structures, political structures, and so on. Even new, fresh AiR initiatives don't come out of the blue. They are born from these structures, or they anticipate on playing a role within these structures.

  • How do AiR centers connect?
  • How do AiR centers co-work?


Reality isn't as simple as a slogan like "co-working is in, networking is out" suggests. But for sure: co-working is in the air. There is a new tendency in the AiR sector to leave the 'old' networking and to develop "co-working structures". Co-working structures differ from networks. Networking exists between separate entities, between partners who already know who they are, what they represent, and what they want. From their fixed position and from their own perspective they strategically connect to other partners, to reach for their own goals.

Instead of networking, co-working structures are of a tactical nature: they offer a more open field where opportunities for encounter can take place. Different partners and interests can meet and take mutual responsibility. Collaborative processes emerge, they are not planned. These co-working structures can be temporary, they don't need to condense in fixed networks.

Through creating co-working structures AiR centers and their partners are finding out who they might be, what they might represent, what they could strive for. While co-working they mutually adjust their positions, perspectives, and expectations. An alternative way of looking at AiR-programming, networking, collaborating, sponsoring?

Panel 4: Each One Teach One

The Each One Teach One panel focused on knowledge building and distribution. Point of departure was a statement by Chuz Martinez, curator at Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, which she made during teh Cairo Residency Symposium in March 2009: "Each AiR-centre builds up knowledge, and creates a site-specific art history and context. Guests, hosts, curators and public meet and connect to the knowledge that the AiR-centre can provide, and vice versa. Let's focus on this function of AiR centres as alternative academies."

In what ways do AiR programs fulfill an alternative way of teaching?

* Pieter Baan Muller made a refreshing statement: "Actually art academies are already artist-in-residence programs." That is his experience at the Artez Art Academy in Enschede, the Netherlands. Muller explained that an art academy in principal creates encounters between experienced artists and less-experienced artists. AiR programs do the same, albeit in a less structured way. Hosts and guests teach each other, said Muller: "It all revolves around generating experience."

* Connie van Driel explained how Stroom in The Hague works as a unique, facilitating institution. Stroom functions as a motor, setting in motion conditions for culture in the city. Stimulating conditions for AiR programs is only one out of many activities by Stroom. A residency is not being supported because it is a residency, but because it plays a role in coherence with the whole of the arts in the city. Knowledge distribution and sharing of knowledge is crucial, Van Driel stated. Stroom works with Trans Artists on creating a Q&A checklist for people who want to start an artist-in-residence program. Stroom also makes working visits to residential art centers abroad, to gain more insight in different models and contexts for residency programs.

* Carl Emanuel Wolff pointed out the value of friendship through artist-in-residence programs. Personally, while staying at residency centers, he experienced the importance of artists being together, of artists living together. Being together creates intimacy, and also controversy, and competition. You learn a lot through these experiences, Wolff explained. You make friends while you share and fight about artistic ideas. This may develop into real, personal friendship, not 'just' professional friendship. Wolff stimulated us to look at the artist-in-residence sector from this perspective of friendship. He introduced into the discussion an informal, personal element, which was welcomed by all.

* Lidy Mouw also contributed an important element to the debate on Each One Teach One. Working at the Kultursekretariat she told to reckon with the whole picture, not only with the artist-in-residence sector. Of course the AiR sector creates its own, specific learning context, but this is only part of the story. Mouw pointed out that the expectations of the public are very important and must not be underestimated. The public is curious, the public is interested. People seriously want to gain valid experience through encounter with the arts, and also through encounter with visiting artists. As host of a residency program you are in a special position: you are a mediator between the visiting artist and the public. Mouw: "Please use your position to connect the visiting artist and the public."