March 29 It is early spring when I join Ad Vlems, Frederique Rinkens, and Jos Wilbrink in the community center of Ecodorp Boekel in Brabant. Twelve years ago, ideas started to root. Three years ago, the construction began, and now the first residents moved in. Subsequently, a community of 15 cats is roaming the construction site, the garden, and nearby fields.
Ecodorp Boekel is a neighborhood including 30 climate positive rental homes, six informal care homes, a community center, a knowledge – and education center, workshop and offices, gardens that provide 60% of their food supply, a water purification system as well as energy supply, and last but not least: an artist-in-residency. A studio, when ready, where artists, designers, architects, and writers will live and work on-site to experiment and develop ideas solving practical issues of this pioneering community. In the meantime, a call has been issued for international artists to present works concerning the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals – read all about it here. Ideas to connect with other eco-villages in Europe through artist-in-residence programs just hit the table. I'm looking forward to what else is in store for this fierce future-friendly lot in the coming years!
June 7 Kanaal 10 is a residency at Plantage Doklaan, a building in the centre of Amsterdam. Once it was a church, a printing business, a school, and since 1998 the building was squatted, renovated and bought by a diverse group of activists, cultural organizers and artists. These days Plantage Doklaan harbors 9 art studio's, a cafe and vegan restaurant, a gallery, the Dokzaal and the artist-in-residency. Artist Maia Machèn lives at Plantage Doklaan and now it is her turn to run the residency program. After a thorough clean up of the studio and accomodation, she aims to level up the program and connecting with other Air programs in town, perhaps setting up studio visits between the residencies could be just that. A great idea, a first city Air meeting coming up this summer!
May 3 Catching up with Ron Dirven, director at the Van Gogh Huis in Zundert. While the museum has been closed since 6 months during lockdown, its residency program next door keeps facilitating a steady flow of artists. Every month an artist resides at the former sexton's house and atelier, next to the chapel from where Vincent's father kept his parish. Each residency used to conclude with an exhibition in the gallery. These exhibitions will now move to the Van Gogh Huis as soon as doors will open.
We payed a visit to the current resident, Alexandra van Dongen who is a curator at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Alexandra dedicates her residency to her research concerning objects (old pots, jugs, jars, etc.) painted by Vincent during the years he spend in the village of Nuenen. She stressed the value of being able to work on location, and the need for more residency opportunities like these for curators to be able to step away from the office, to focus and allow a more context and process based research to enfold. Hear hear!
April 12 a morning coffee with artist Hugo Palmar who since last year joined the team of Atelier WG. Atelier WG is an artist-run initiative, connected with PuntWG art space, and located in an artist studio complex in the heart of Amsterdam. We discussed how to keep pushing your program from the artist - organizer position and perspective? Back in the day, the Dutch residency sector was and still is rooted by these initiatives, bringing furtile grounds for artists and institutions to thrive. Is it still possible today to run a program bottom up? Keeping alive a diversity of spaces for the arts and artists, and, manners how we relate, think and work together to make this possible. Supportive structures are indespensible though, and perhaps hybrid formats could help to keep a healthy balance for the tons of voluntary work involved.
Thank you Hugo for an interesting morning and lets keep threading and connecting on these subjects!
March 15 I travelled to Oisterwijk to meet Ranti Tjan at Ekwc, Lex van Lith at Made Eindhoven and Koen Dijkman at De Fabriek in Eindhoven and was joined by Carola van der Heijden from Grafische Werkplaats in The Hague.
At EKWC, it is business as usual. The workshops and studio's cover a huge premesis and as artists work independently in a fairly closed off community, the program keeps up and running. Workshop facilitators are present both online and on location to guide artists through the ceramic work process.
Lex, Ranti and Carola are also at the heart of Platform Werkplaatsen, a network of workshop (and AiR) facilitators in the Netherlands and Flanders (co-founded with AiR Platform NL in 2014). Online intervision meetings became a proper tool for the workshops to stay connected. Platform Werkplaatsen is developing a symposium scheduled in May in The Hague, exciting! More info on the program will follow soon.
Visiting Lex at Make Eindhoven (formerly Beeldenstorm and Daglight) a metal, glass and print workshop including Air program in the center of Eindhoven. The workshops still faciliate projects for experienced artists and designers but is closed to new visitors. Their biggest concern is how artists and small design agencies will pull through now commissions and exhibitions have been postponed as all are connected to the work space.
At a 30 minute walk from Make Eindhoven I visit De Fabriek, a residency program where artists realize new work in its monumental exhibition space. Thé opportunity to work BIG. I just missed the installation by artist Dieke Venema that she finished in December 2020. Koen explained how most of the program of last year was cancelled. Which in a way gave room to reflect and start a process of restructuring the organization, with the ambition to realize a shared artist-in-residence accomodation in the city together with other art programs. Plans to look forward to!
What a pleasure to convene again.