No obligations: no commitment?

No obligations: no commitment?

Should the host ask for a tangible outcome of the residency, or should the result be left open? All participants to the group session 'Residencies tied to exhibitions and production' were eager to debate on this important topic for residency providers as well as artist

It seems that more and more artists' residencies offer exhibitions and production facilities, not just as a free option for their guests but as a condition for staying. For these residencies the outcome must be concrete, something to present or show.

"I want to be challenged!"

Some artists and hosts said to favor residencies that ask for a tangible outcome, because it triggers them to be alert and to really get in contact. "I want to be challenged, so there is a serious effort from both sides to be made", said Mahmoud Khaled, artist from Alexandria. He was skeptical of the idea that open, process-based residencies will foster better understanding and mutual exchange. "If you are free from any obligation, there might be no urge to commit yourself."

artist Mahmoud Khaled: "I want to be challenged."

"But what's left of hospitality?"

But what's left of hospitality? That was the question asked by other participants to this session. Shouldn't hospitality be unconditional? Why would you need obligations to trigger your work? Why demanding a specific form of outcome from the start? Most residencies, they also said, do have tangible results anyway, whithout anybody demanding it. There are results in the form of a report or documentation, or in the form of the stories told afterwards. Reality is rich and complicated, was the conclusion to this part of the session: the result of each residency remains a surprise to the host as well as the guest. Unconditional hospitality might result in concrete products. A strict demand for production and presentation might very well foster an open process without tangible results.


A good debate took place about the questioned benefits of residential art centres catering for the 'See-Buy-Fly' curator. Shouldn't residencies stimulate an open mind and offer time for research instead of facilitating the art professional who quickly comes, sees, and goes? Participants to the workshop warned not to think in stereotypes. All depends on attitudes and expectations. It might be tricky for a residential art center to function as a hub for fast networking, but what's wrong with organizing for your guest concentrated meetings with local artists and art professionals to give insight in the local art scene? A short visit of an open-minded curator might be worth much more than a long stay by someone who just sticks to his or her own fixed set of presumptions.

Alessio Antoniolli (Gasworks, London): "No stereotyping please."


  • Hosts and guests should be as clear as possible about their conditions and expectations.
  • No model can predict what the outcome will be.
  • It would be beneficial for hosts and guests to intensify and extend the use of the residential art center as a centre of connection for a wider group than artists alone.