Created in China. The artist's experience
On November the third, 2015 DutchCulture organized the program Created in China. The artist's experience to dive into questions like "How to establish a collaborative relationship with Chinese art institutions and initiatives?" and "How to take part in, and what to expect from Chinese artist-in-residence programs? " Professionals from China, the Netherlands and elsewhere shared experiences and ideas on cultural collaboration in and with Chinese partners, with a special focus on artist-in-residence programs and performing arts.
DutchCulture's experts on China and on artist-in-residence programs joined forces to put a spotlight on international cultural cooperation with China. We asked our guests to tell about their first-hand experiences, while informing the audience about trends and new developments of the cultural ‘climate’ in China, with a special focus to the somehow unknow, ecology of Chinese artist-in-residency programs.
The departing point derived naturally from our own working experience. Although more and more Dutch artists have worked in China and the Mondriaan Fund has for years been supporting a few residency programs there, we receive at times artists’ requests to advise on their eastbound adventures, as well as their positive or negative reports afterwards. At the same time, our Chinese partners are well aware of the (for them) imported concept of artist-in-residency programs, which has developed seemingly ‘organically’ by itself and has become more and more prominent in the economy of culture and art. To put it simply, facilitating artists to successfully live and work for a short period in the other country is on our agenda of cultural cooperation with China.
We were happy that Kira Simon-Kennedy, co-founder of the one-and-only English information platform dedicated to Chinese artist-in-residency programs, travelled to Amsterdam to share generously her rich database on Chinese residencies with us. Her China Residencies website contains the most comprehensive database on residencies (of all kind of disciplines) in China. She informed us about some programs in details and gave us an outline of her working methods.
One of the residencies that Kira Simon-Kennedy had visited was Organhaus. Its founder Yang Shu, an artist and Rijksakademie alumnus, shared with us his stories of initiating a totally independent local art space and residency program in the less-known west Chinese city of Chongqing. He told us about the scope of the program and gave an extensive overview of past programs.
Artists Edwin Zwakman and Charlott Markus, who both resided at the IFP (Institute of Provocation), talked about their own career development and inspirations from their China experiences. Edwin gave us an overview of the work he did in China and he gave some personal views of the importance of working in the context of a residency. Charlott told us about the swift adaptations that she was able to make in Beijing. She told us about the inspiration she received from working there.
We also managed to have curator Feng Boyi and Liu Gang, two old friends over from FOAM – where they were busily installing the currently-on-view exhibition We May Have Met Before, to openly talk about the challenges and achievements – no matter cultural, institutional differences or financial problems – in all the previous collaborative projects they’ve been involved in.
Moreover, we specially invited Hakim and actress Lotte Vogel to bring us their fresh encounters at Xi’an’s Silk Road International Art Festival. Hakim gave us a performance and talked about his experiences with doing these in China. He managed to connect to the Chinese audiences without words, just like he did with our audience. Lotte talked about the way China inspired her.
Our moderator, Asia Desk journalist, Floris Harm conducted the Q&A’s in which we invited Mayke Jongsma of the Mondriaan Fund and Nico Schaafsma of the Performing Arts Fund. They explained how their international policy works for China. Nico was happy to hear about the positive feedback from Hakim and Lotte, Mayke explained the choices of the Fund for supporting residencies and invited artists to apply for funding even for the residencies that the Fund is not supporting structurally.
In the Q&A we touched upon difficulties to work in China like visa requirements, censorship and financial issues. Many items to talk about but the common feeling was one of chances, inspiration and great collaboration opportunities.
Monique Knapen, Ian Yang (DutchCulture|China)