New works & Berlin winter

New works & Berlin winter

Who: Peggy Franck

When: Summer 2010

Where: Künstlerhaus Bethanien

Why an artist residency?

To take a break from my daily practice. To have time to reflect and to experiment. To read and take a distance. And to ask myself new questions and create new works.

Why did you apply to Bethanien specially?

Bethanien has been on my wish list for quite a while. Sometimes you really feel that you have to be somewhere. I was very fascinated by the building and it's location. The amazingly dramatic architecture, the remote feeling. I thought it would be the perfect place for contemplation and creation. A bit romantic... Also the size of the studio appealed to me. I would have the possibility to work on several projects at the same time and to make larger scale sets for my photographs. And of course living in Berlin. 

Does the residency live up to the expectations you had?

Well it's a bit different, because in July Bethanien moved to a new building. So I had only about three months at the old location. The new location is really nice as well, but it has a totally different atmosphere. Bethanien is now situated in an old 'lichtfabrik'. It has a more industrial feeling to it. The area is also much more alive and active. Not quiet as the former Bethanien.

In 2005-2006 you where a resident at the Rijksakademie voor beeldende kunsten. What do you experience to be the  main difference  between your working period back then and now?

These residencies are totally different. The Rijksakademie offers much more of a program. With a lot of technical assistance, the possibility to meet advisors regularly, a couple of trips/ excursions etc. Bethanien is a much smaller organization and there's no clear program. Another big difference is that all the artist at the Rijksakademie arrive/ start at the same time. This is not the case in Bethanien. You don't really know when a new artist arrives or whois there at any given moment. If you want to get to know the other artists you have to organize it yourself. So it is much more of a do it yourself situation.

How are the living and studio conditions at Bethanien? Do you feel at home?

The studio is very nice. As the building has just been renovated, it's all very white and fresh. The studio has a small kitchen, so it's also possible to eat there. And a bed so you can sleep. It's good to have that possibility in case of late night work etc.

But I live in an apartment in Mitte. That is also provided by the Fonds BKVB. This is very nice. To be able to leave the studio when you want. And to live in such a nice location (Mitte) and to work in another very nice location (Kreuzberg) and travel between them.

How does your day look like here?

A regular studio day (mostly six days of the week) looks like this. I eat breakfast at home and then bike to my studio. Where I start around 9/10 o'clock. I have lunch in my studio and work the whole day. Sometimes I go out to lay in the sun with a book or to take a walk. (Don't know what that's gonna be like in winter). I work till about 8/9 o'clock. And I then go to yoga, the cinema, a park or just somewhere in the city. There's always something nice to do here. 

Is everything financed?

The Fonds BKVB is so kind as to offer the studio, the apartment and a stipend. 

How do you make use of the technical facilities they offer?

I can only use them for the show that I will have at Bethanien in the end of the residency. So until now I do everything myself. At the moment I am looking at metalworkshops in the city where they can help me to make some things. 

Do you get feedbacks  on your work during studio visits?

Since I am here I've only had two visits that were organized by Bethanien. One involved a huge class of art students from the States. The other one was with Kathrin Romberg, the curator of the Berlin Bienale. The visits are a bit too short. Only 30 minutes. So it's more a quick screening of the work than an in-depth discussion. I am now going to invite more people myself. I did already some shows in Germany and met people that I would like to invite. In the meantime there are luckily other artists from outside of the Bethanien program that I know in Berlin who visit my studio. It is really nice to discuss the work with them and get different feedback.

Would you like to stay in Berlin after you've finished?

I don't know yet, this will be a difficult decision. There are still seven months left of my residency here in Berlin, so I think time will tell. Until now I really enjoy it here. It really feels like my world is expanding. There's so much happening in Berlin, this is very inspiring. It's easy to meet new people and especially other artists. But on the other hand I feel a commitment to Amsterdam. And I feel very connected to some artists there. So I don't know yet. I could also imagine coming back to Holland first for half a year (I will have some shows in Holland next year) and return back to Berlin afterwards.

This interview took place in the summer of 2010. It's now almost the end of my residency. And winter time. I was a bit frightened by all the stories people told me about Berlin winters. But until now it's ok. It's cold, but what is sometimes difficult is that there's not so much light. I have spend most of this wintertime in my studio. It's a good time for concentration which is sometimes harder in summer. The city gives me a lot. All the great museums and (art)bookshops. It feels like there's a lot of information in the air. This is something I missed a bit lately in Amsterdam. I am looking forward to present the works I am developing here in Berlin.