Cornelia Konrads (Artist)
In short, landscape is the link between our outer and inner selves.
Bill Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House, Writings, p.253
How I encounter “my site”
As a passionate traveller and site specific sculptor, I had the chance to stay and work in various countries all over the world. Mostly (and preferably) I go on a travel without a predefined plan. Starting point after arrival is always: walking. Meandering in an unknown area, in search of the site and the form of a work, I collect what lies on the edge of my path: shapes, materials, local habits and occurrences.
All my works are deeply connected with the place where i build them. I see the site not as a background, but as a texture. The goal is, that my work becomes a part of this texture.
So I’m looking for the smell and the sound of a place as well as for its stories and memories. Meanwhile I know, that those walks will bring me into a close dialogue with the place, reflecting about the landscape, architecture, vegetation and history of the surrounding area. I can rely on the fact, that sooner or later my excursions will bring me to „my site“, a spot where all thoughts and impressions condensate to an image, an idea, a project.
This process of searching and finding, as i experienced it in the context of residencies, commissions and exhibitions, is of course every time exciting and special. Nevertheless it happened in my recent projects, that I sometimes feel a kind of “routine” I would like to avoid.
Anna Ptak (Curator and Art Producer)
The Residency Programme Curator
Organising residencies is my daily work. For several years now, I have been involved in collaborating with artists who decide to spend a few months of their lives in Warsaw. As a rule, one of three motives can be attributed to their decision. Some want to engage in a specific artistic activity and an invitation to take part in the A-I-R Laboratory programme corresponds to their search for an institution which will support the accomplishment of their concept in terms of production. Others intend to carry out artistic research, the outcome of which may bear fruit in the emergence of new work. However, a fundamental premise of our programme is that this ‘may’ is indeed ‘may’ and not ‘must’. In these instances, Warsaw’s identified social phenomena, its historical timeline and sui generis collection of relationships which make up the city, as well as its architectural, economic and political fabric, are analysed and mapped, its archives are burrowed into and focused conversations are held with residents and institutions. Then there are those who come to the A-I-R Laboratory in order to reclaim their time; they come in search of a refuge from the pressure of everyday responsibilities and in the hope of a creative experiment.
We A-I-R Laboratory curators act as mediators between the questions and expectations of the artists and the potential offered by our knowledge both of Warsaw itself and of local experts, who may either be researchers or people whose knowledge springs from their daily lives and work in the city. Ultimately, the artists fictionalise and aestheticise the process of seeking and communicating knowledge, subjecting it to artistic interpretation. This element of conceptual artistic practices, which is operating with increasing frequency in the patterns of exhibitions and activities taking place beyond the gallery space, also constitutes a key aspect of the artistic and curatorial work supported by the Warsaw residency centre.
Michiko Tsuda (Artist/ PhD of Film and New Media Studies)
I sometimes reflect on my past experiences of Artist-in-Residence (hereinafter, “AIR”) programs. Artists are sort of like aliens who visit certain places with a piece of security as an outsider. Through my experiences of visiting various places, there have been moments when I realize that some kind of sensors have been set in my body to respond to new discoveries and surprises unique to particular places. Our works are produced using these internal sensors and expressing what is unique to the places we stay as well as the connections and history behind a certain place. Therefore, the process of production itself is a part of program outcomes. Even if we do not explicitly mention these things, producing works while being in a certain place will surely result in some sort of connection.
Is the role of artists to cultivate the richness of a certain area and shed light on it?
If so, wouldn’t it be fair to say that the experiences of artists gained through the various places they have been to are some kind of social contribution?
In this review, I would like to examine a question “Why participate in Artist-in-Residence programs?” based on my own experiences by focusing on differences in experiences of several AIR programs, through referring to key terms I came across at this Res Artis General Meeting.
Do AIR programs have their own purposes?
At “Session 9: Ideal residency for artists” of the General Meeting held on October 27★1, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, an art unit comprising Young-hae Chang from Korea and Marc Voge from the United States, posed a straightforward question “Why participate in Artist-in-Residence programs?” With this question, the artist talk in this session became more vibrant. In addition, a question from the audience asking “Are residencies really supporting artists?” inspired a fundamental discussion including “What are artists?” and “What is art?” When Chang and Voge said, that the “underlying benefit of AIR programs is to provide an opportunity for artists to experience new places and spend valuable time,” these words seemed to ring a bell for other artists. Thai artist Wit Pimkanchanapong, who works on a project basis, said that once an artist gets one’s carrer off the ground, opportunities for AIR programs inevitably turn up. Other artists agreed with his comment that an ideal AIR program offers “support and a healthy environment not only for artists but also for their families.”
Toshiro Mitsuoka (Lecturer, Tokyo Keizai University)
This time, having the Res Artis General Meeting, an international conference of Artist-in-Residence (AIR) as a theme, I would like to consider another social context in which AIR takes place. In the first half of the article, I will introduce the session in which I participated, and then in the latter half, I will explore the possibilities of AIR from the perspective of social mobility★1.
Difficulty of Project Evaluation
In the evening session on October 28, “Session 14: Cultural Policy on Creative Platform,” three presenters were invited to speak. The first was Sarah Gardner, Executive Director of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), which connects art promotion organizations around the world. The second was Anupama Sekhar, Acting Deputy Director for Cultural Exchange at the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), which contributes to promoting cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe. And the final speaker was Junya Nakano, Director at the Office for International Cultural Exchange, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan. Within a limited amount of time, each speaker made a 15-minute presentation.
First, Ms. Gardner gave us an outline of the IFACCA and the research it has been conducting. The IFACCA was founded in December 2000 with the purpose of establishing a global network of arts promotion organizations represented by national arts councils. It currently consists of 72 national organizations and 47 equivalent organizations. She then went on to speak about the “WorldCP Project,” which is one of IFACCA’s major activities. Basically, it is a project to document individual countries’ cultural policies in detail and use this resource as common information infrastructure★2. It has already covered 42 countries in Europe and is currently profiling the cultural policies of Asian countries including South Korea and Singapore. She then briefly introduced the details of research conducted by IFACCA. In this article, I will not mention further for this research as well as the after-mentioned presentation by Ms. Sekhar, because both the IFACCA and the ASEF have released the research reports on their websites. Therefore, please visit each organization’s website if you want to know more★3. Among the research results presented, what I want to pay attention to is the difficulty of evaluating AIR subsidy projects, as pointed out in the conclusion of the presentation. Ms. Gardner said the difficult aspect is the issues of its “impact” and the “time lag” until the “impact” comes to the surface. Although the purport of this session is not the “project evaluation,” I would like to discuss it later partly because it was one of the themes that ran through the entire Res Artis meeting.
Meruro Washida (Curator of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa/ Board member of CAAK, Center for Art & Architecture, Kanazawa)
The Res Artis General Meeting was held in Tokyo in October 2012. Res Artis is a worldwide network of artist residencies, based in the Netherlands, and holds general meetings every other year in worldwide locations. In conjunction with the General Meeting, about 20 presentations and sessions were run for four days. In this article, I will make a report on one of these sessions: Session 3 “Microresidency, Artist-run Residency★1.”
What Is a Microresidence?
“Microresidence” is a term advocated by Tatsuhiko Murata, one of the panelists for this session, and is still far from being a commonly used term. According to Murata, this term derives from comments on the Youkobo Art Space (hereinafter, Youkobo), an artist-in-residence program managed by Murata, by artists who were staying at Youkobo in 2005. Murata defines the characteristics of a microresidence as small scale (in terms of both budget and facilities); artist-run or a grass-roots program independent from government sponsorship; highly flexible; placing highest priority on the support for artists and the special care of human relationships★2. I strongly sympathize with Murata’s activities, since CAAK, Center for Art & Architecture, Kanazawa, a non-profit private organization where I am a board member, also manages an artist-in-residence program that exactly falls under the definition of microresidence. However, at present, typical artist-in-residence facilities that we think of are public facilities such as ACAC Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, ARCUS Project, Tokyo Wonder Site and Akiyoshidai International Art Village. Under such circumstances, it is the remarkable step that a microresidence was picked as one of the topics of the Res Artis General Meeting where people involved in artist-in-residence programs gather from all over the world.
Youkobo became a member of Res Artis in 2001, and Murata, after serving as its board member, is currently the Vice President. He was appointed to the current position because his contribution not only to the management of Youkobo but also to the development of international networks has been well evaluated within Res Artis. In fact, many of the presenters for this session are closely related to Murata. Among the six presenters, excluding Murata and moderator Machiko Harada, Anat Litwin, Francisco Guevara and Julie Upmeyer are artists and organizers staying in Youkobo at the time of the meeting. Four days later, almost the same members held a talk and discussion session on microresidences at Youkobo, though sadly I couldn’t attend★3.
1── History of Res Artis
Mario Caro── Res Artis all began in 1992 with an informal meeting of a handful of residency organizers who realized that there was a need to establish a way for residencies to meet on a frequent basis. At the beginning, it was mainly an informal group of people who decided to meet every other year. And that still continues to be the main reason for the organization—to provide an opportunity for organizers of residencies and other art professionals who are interested in residencies to come together and address urgent issues within the field. I think that the most immediate issue at that time was to address the fact that residencies were growing and people needed to form a coalition to face the challenges presented by this growth.
Although what we basically do is dedicated to promoting cultural exchange and artists’ mobility, our main interest and focus is the needs of our residency members. Through our programming, we provide a critical forum for organizers of residency programs to develop creative models for challenging cultural assumptions and broadening worldviews.
──── How many members around the world?
Caro── We have around 600 members worldwide in total. When I came into the organization, we had a little bit more than 300. The total number of corporate membership is 85 organizations. This is quite a substantial growth and we think that’s the result of two things. One is that we, as an organization, have become much more visible and people know more about us. Because of that visibility, we have gained more memberships. But it’s also because the field itself has been growing quite a bit, and so that growth I think is also affecting our membership. In 2009, we had a regional meeting in Korea and started to attend to Asia as a whole and its specific needs. We now have eight members in Japan, nine members in Korea, and twelve members in China．
“The biggest distance you can have to a spot on earth is the moment you leave it, because every step you take from there brings you closer to it again” romances Victor Segalen, french writer and philosopher in 1903 a.d. when he was travelling East Asia and Polynesia. He can be considered to be the first European, whose aim was to experience the other without becoming a “pimp of exotism”. A small but important difference, that gets lost in the translation of this quote is, that the german term ‘erfahren’ not only means ‘experience’, but in a very litteral way ‘moving around’.
Sanghee Song (Artist)
Currently I work and live in Amsterdam. Here in Amsterdam, when cold air and the distant cries of crows surround me, my thoughts go towards the woods of Aomori – to the deep wood scent, the sound of dry leaves crumbling as I walked through the woods behind my residency studio in Aomori Contemporary Art Centre. During my three month stay at the residency program of ACAC these woods and skies were where I found peace and relief.
Living as an artist means that there is something uncomfortable inside oneself. It is an abrasive situation. The ground that one is standing on feels slant and trembling, it is a constant feeling of anxiety, uneasiness and awkwardness. Even how, as I go through these moments, my eyes witness many things. And what my eye witnessed is left as a rupture in my heart. As Barbara Kruger once noted in her work ‘Your body is a battleground ‘, as an artist my body is a battleground. And the ruptures left in me inflame. They are answerless, suffocating hours. The only answer is just dive into the artwork (shut up and just make your artwork :）), or to go to places where you could work. For me it was ‘Aomori’.
In 2007 I was invited to participate in the trans_2006-2007 Residence Support Program at the Akiyoshidai International Art Village. It was my first time visiting Japan and I was thrilled to spend 70 days in a new place. In 2007 we were altogether three artists from different countries, each realising our own project. Since that first long residency, I have returned to AIAV as a fellow artist in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Due to all those residencies Japanese culture, nature and its people have become a precious and continuous source of inspiration for me.
I work with movement, voice and sound design. I also write songs, make choreographies and play instruments. I consider myself as an explorer of the possibilities of the body and its relation to the world, nature and people. Therefore, traveling to foreign countries and spending time in different cultures is a crucial part of my work. Even as I explore the possibilities of expression in the human body, I also explore geographic and cultural landscapes. I am interested in how the interaction between people and environment influences our creative ways of expression. I believe that experiencing and making art can add to the general well-being of the world.
Ema 0ta （3331 Arts Chiyoda)
Towards a New Model of Arts Engagement
3331 Arts Chiyoda, based in Akihabara, Tokyo, is an independent initiative, opened in 2010, with the aim to support a new model of arts engagement beyond the existing gallery and museum system, connecting the general public and communities, in a new way, to the possibilities of artistic expression. 3331 offers a unique approach to creative practice, based on the site of an old school the centre provides over 4 floors of exhibition space, workshop facilities, meeting rooms, office space for arts organizations, independent galleries, café, lounge, roof top allotments and sports amenities. It is a unique model which invites people of all generations, backgrounds and interests to participate in its open approach to all disciplines of art 3331 offers various programs which encompass people with disabilities, children, local residents, students, experts and those with a curiosity for the arts.