Around the Corner!

Around the Corner!

"Artist-in-residence isn't necessarily about international mobility anymore, it is about inhabiting a space, and that space might be around the corner!"

This provoking statement by Odile Chenal of the Research and Development program of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) raised considerable attention during the first session of the conference, dedicated to the question 'Why invest in residencies?'. In her talk Odile Chenal put it sharply: "The concept of an artists' residency is no longer attached to geographical mobility. While formerly a residence was about going somewhere else in a geographical sense, and mainly outside one?s own country, artists also want to go now in residencies in their direct environment, in their own cities. They can experience difference there and be challenged in working in a social, cultural, or professional context they're not familiar with. In fact 'Otherness' can be, in distance, very close!"

What will the impact be on funding policies?

Chenals answer was that we more and more will realize that the space and time that residency programs provide, are socially charged. No artist, no host will escape the relations that are at stake during a residency opportunity. Therefore funding organizations must also think over again and again their own role in connection to the residency opportunity.

Swapping positions

Chenal explained how the ECF tries to define its own role within this new perspective. To do this the ECF put an experiment into practice that would enable the cultural policy maker to inhabit the space of the artist, and the other way round. The program officers of the ECF swapped places with the artist-in-residence for one day. The artist was placed 'behind the desk', the funding officer was placed 'in the residency's studio'. Afterwards they evaluated their experiences. Through this swap of positions the ECF hopes to clarify for the funding officer as well as for the artist what the differences are in each other's positions, expectations, and limitations.

This all added to Chenal's advice to artists and providers of residency opportunities: be clear about your motivations and expectations, and keep a keen eye on the core of what artists would like to do, instead of following the pattern that you're used to.