"Does this Really Exist?"

"Does this Really Exist?"

Trans Artists Workshop at BJCEM 2009, Skopje, Macedonia

The XIV Edition of the Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean in September 2009 opened its gates in Skopje, R. Macedonia. Macedonia is a country where different ethnic groups, religions and cultures live together and influence each other. On certain level that was visible in the whole biennale, the mixture of artists and the way they were represented in different locations in the centre of the city, in different venues close to each other. Performances, music, gastronomy, these were all happenings that one would encounter on the streets and squares in Skopje.www.bjcem.org The main meeting point was The House of the Army, which especially for this biennale was renamed into Creativity House. With just entering in it, you could immediately notice the changes in terms of atmosphere; the building was re-designed to fit the needs of the artists, looked much more lively and colorful than ever before .The only memento of the presence of the army was the big mural in the conference room.

"Does this really exist? Where was I living till now? There are places in the world where I can go as an artist and work and develop? This workshop was an eye opener".This is one comment, among many, that I received after the Trans Artists workshop "How to become an artist in residence".There were 80 participants in the workshop. It was an interesting and exciting mix of artists, different backgrounds, different plans and futures, but one thing was common for all, they were here to find out about the possibilities for professionalizing their career, hence, one of the options, to become an artist in residence.

Among the many information shared, during the course of the workshop there were two special guests who helped in bringing closer the term artist in residence. The first guest was Goce Smilevski, a writer from Macedonia, who has done few residencies, among others in New York, Kulturkontakt in Vienna and Fonds voor de Letteren in Amsterdam. He shared his knowledge and experience on how he dealt with the application forms and motivation letters, how the travelling and staying in a different country reflected in his work. He stressed the importance for artists to travel and in that way get out of their comfort zone, and into the unknown where creation is primary.

Wim Legrand is the studio manager of Frans Masereel Centrum and was the second guest that participated in the workshop. He came into contact with many applications from different artists, and he shared his practice in how they are judging the applications, what does it mean for the organizer to welcome an artist in residence, and how the benefits are mutual.

With lively discussion, and motivating questions the workshop was concluded. Last look at the mural on the wall, the army marching, and I could see all the artists in the same position, armed with information and possibilities for their future, ready to start conquering the world of artist in residence.

Bojana Panevska

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