AiR network meeting Finland
Finland offers a vibrant cultural infrastructure with currently over 60 artist residencies. Together they form a diverse network connecting large institutional residencies and smaller self-funded micro residencies tucked away in the woods. This summer TransArtists' Lotte Geeven had the pleasure to attend the anual artist residency meeting organised by the Finnish Artists’ Studio Foundation.
The meeting was hosted by the Serlachius-residency in Mänttä. Here at the lake, the former paper mill owner Gösta Serlachius build a gigantic museum with a connected residency program. Surrounded by woodlands and waters and at just a 3 hour busdrive from the capital, artists, art historians, researchers and curators are offered time and space to develop new projects. In this inspiring setting Finnish residencies and residencies-in-the-making gathered for the A.i.R. meeting designed to exchange knowledge, experience and insights within an informal setting.
For the 2019 edition TransArtists was asked to contribute with advice concerning strategies for professionalization, to work towards more sustainable practices. By sharing examples and questions that could empower the individual organisations as well as the network as a whole we looked into the ‘why?’ question. Reaching beyond merely offering time and space for artists in relation to a local context (building, surrounding, community) or a specific motivation or urgency (personal, political), a residency can both mark it’s specific position inside the international art field and develop new forms of operating. Looking closely at the core motivation allows an organisation to shift form and size within changing political and economical circumstances. This way unexpected connections and forms of collaboration can take shape through idea-based networks.
Sharing professional contexts
We addressed the idea of sharing and exchanging facilities between residencies and technical workshops. An interesting example in this respect is Platform Werkplaatsen; a collaboration between Dutch and Flemish workshops and labs for artists and designers where both hosts and artists can find a clear overview of expertise and technical facilities. Platform Werkplaatsen is co-initiated by AiR Platform NL, platform for artist-in-residence programs in the Netherlands.
A practice of connecting
Catinca Tabacaru, member of the CTG Collective - the current residents of Serlachius-residency (image with the bikes) provided an inspiring insight in their practice and motivation: connecting people. The Collective's drive to explore the human experience through ‘boundless configurations of art’ focuses on connecting communities. With this motivation artist studios and exhibition spaces are reconfigured and placed in unexpected locations, while local communities conspire as actors and collaborators.
Another presentation was given by OULU Region Artist in residence network consisting of 5 residencies, of which 3 supported by the municipality and 2 micro residencies that are self- or project funded. Kaisa Kerätär contributed by sharing local resources, opportunities and future plans for the region. Oulu region is focusing on new technologies in communication, healthcare and biotechnologies.
The encounters during the meeting inspired to continue the exchange and conversation on these topics also in the Netherlands. We are currently exploring the possibilities to connect the Dutch and Finish residency field in 2020 and look forward to future collaborations.