Artist-in-Residence NOW 11
Report of the 12th General Meeting of “Res Artis” Worldwide Network of Artist Residencies

Tatsuhiko Murata (Co-Director, Youkobo Art Space)

The 12th General Meeting of Res Artis (*1), a worldwide network of artist residencies, was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada for five days from October 6 (Wed.) to 10 (Sun.) in 2010. Under the theme of “The Americas: Independent Artistic Practices in the Era of Globalization,” a wide variety of AIR (artist-in-residence) programs were introduced and discussed, and topics focusing on the American continent including Latin America were highlighted.
The Res Artis general meeting was hosted by RCAAQ (Regroupement des centres d’artistes autogeres du Quebec), a Quebec-based organization that provides support to artist-led art-space activities across Canada. Canada has abundant artist-run organizations known for their very active programs, of which RCAAQ is a model.
The host city, Montreal, is Canada’s second largest city after Toronto. It has a population of about 3.7 million, and two thirds of its citizens speak French as their first language. Renowned as Canada’s leading cultural city, it is also home to Cirque du Soleil, which is currently touring Japan and other parts of the world.
The meeting took place across several venues. The main venue—a very interesting choice I must say—was Le Musée Juste pour Rire (The Just for Laughs Museum), which is, as its name suggests, the world’s only museum dedicated to comedies and humor.
So much for the introduction. The general meeting, led by Res Artis president, Mario Caro and the meeting’s executive committee chairperson, Bastien Gilbert (RCAAQ director) provided participants with the opportunity for mutual understanding, active exchange of opinions, and networking. More than 180 participants came from 20 countries across the world. The majority were from North America, followed by Europe. The rather small Asian representation included two organizations from Tokyo—Tokyo Wonder Site and Youkobo Art Space—and three organizations from Korea.
The next general meeting in 2012, scheduled to take place in Japan (Tokyo Wonder Site will be the host) looks forward to wider participation from Asian AIR organizations.

Read more

Artist-in-Residence NOW 10
Ceramic Wonderland: Artist Residency in a Pottery Town ”Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park”

Michio Sugiyama (Section Chief of the Institute of Ceramic Studies, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park)

As you may know, AIR (artist-in-residence) programs are not original to Japan. I understand them as one of support systems for art, which was introduced from the West. Wikipedia mentions that early residential programs already existed in the US by1900.

Prototypical Artist-in-Residence Programs

Approximately 18 years have passed since Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park adopted the imported system of artist residencies in the filed limited to ceramics. When the residency program was first implemented 20 years ago, the program was simply called “taizai-gata kobo” (workshop with residency) instead of “artist-in-residence” program, then. After several different names were applied to the program over the years, the term “artist-in-residence” has gradually taken root in Japan in the late 1990s.
In the rather unique environment of this pottery-manufacturing town, Shigaraki, artist residencies in a broader sense already existed substantially in the mid-1900s.
It is said that in older times, ceramic artists from Kyoto frequented Shigaraki’s yakiya (ceramic manufacturers). The artists would produce molds for products like flower vases for the yakiya, and in return were permitted to use the yakiya’s kilns to produce their own original works. The yakiya and ceramic artists had an informal, yet firm relationship. This system may be also regarded as a prototypical artist residency in the field of ceramics.

Exterior of Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

Read more

AIR and I, 01: Starting from Anxiety and Setbacks

Shinji Ohmaki (Artist)

Participation in the exhibition “Viewpoint from Galleries: Focusing on a New Generation in Tokyo 2002” (held at contemporary art galleries in Ginza, including Gallery K, Gallery Yamaguchi, Galerie Tokyo Humanité, Gallery GEN and Gallery Kobayashi) provided me the opportunity to consider an artist-in-residence (AIR) program. An artist who was a guest speaker at a symposium accompanying the exhibition saw my exhibit and introduced me to the residency program at Vermont Studio Center in northeastern United States, the largest institution of its kind in the country.

Inevitable setbacks

Having received brochures and other materials, I started preparing my application. But I remember being at a loss for what to write in my “statement” (descriptions and explanations of one’s own work), which was a struggle to complete. Applicants were asked to submit two reference letters, a résumé, the statement, and 20 slides (replaced nowadays by digital images or Power Point data, I suppose). All this had to be translated into English and signed by referees, which was more time-consuming than expected. I did not have anyone close at hand with AIR experience to consult, which compounded my anxiety. The application I finally managed to send off arrived several days after the deadline due to airmail service delays and postal circumstances in the recipient country. Although my application for a fellowship was thus invalid, the Center proposed an alternative slot that came with housing, studio space and meals. This was very tempting. However, I thought that I would be putting myself at huge risk if I quit my job to participate without a guarantee of employment upon my return. As my preference was for residency with a scholarship award, I resisted the temptation, made up my mind to decline the offer, and emailed the Center that I would re-apply next time. I was able to prepare my second application, submitted the following year, much more smoothly.
Glitches are an inevitable part of any new challenge. I think it is crucial not to give up in the face of such setbacks. Heriberto Quesnel, a Mexican artist I met in Vermont, told me he had applied for many residency programs simultaneously. Overseas artists are very self-motivated. At the Center I came across participants exchanging residency information, some even preparing their next residency applications. Such artists seemed to deliberately choose to develop their artistic careers by going from one residency to another.

Read more

Artist-in-Residence NOW: 09 Creative Alternative Space in Belgium and Paris

Atsuko Hisano, Program Director, The Saison Foundation

From April to June 2010 I had the opportunity to visit Europe as part of an Agency for Cultural Affairs program. One of my objectives was to search for a “creative space” that can serve as a model for a new artist-in-residence (AIR) development at the Saison Foundation where I work. This came about after the Foundation decided to open a small studio, lounge and accommodation facility for artists and staff from outside Tokyo and overseas, on a plot of land next to Morishita Studio, a theater training facility the foundation owns in Morishita, in Tokyo’s Taito Ward.

I will write about two organizations I came across during visits to France, Belgium and elsewhere. Both are small organizations but conduct unique activities. They do not limit themselves to one genre, and provide support extending beyond artist residencies. One is Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in France, the other is wp Zimmer in Belgium.

Read more

Artist in Residence NOW 08 : Aomori Contemporary Art Centre (ACAC) Takes a New Step

Teiko Hinuma, Curator Aomori Contemporary Art Centre Aomori Public College

Aomori Contemporary Art Centre (ACAC) is surrounded by the groves of red-pine trees on the hills of Moya, Aomori City. To accommodate residential, creative, and exhibition activities, ACAC is comprised of three buildings designed by the world renowned architect Tadao Ando: Exhibition Hall with two galleries (large and small); Creative Hall for woodwork, printing, and other creative activities; and Residential Hall for long-term residents. These buildings blend in the surrounding nature.
With a population of 300,000 people, Aomori City is one of the heaviest snowfall areas in the world. When the long and harsh winter ends, spring comes with flowers in full bloom and trees and grasses sprouting. After short summer passes, autumn colors leaves in red and yellow, and before long, winter comes again. Art exists with such seasonal changes in nature. Aomori is blessed with the wealth that can’t be found in big cities.

Appearance of ACAC

Read more

Artist in Residence NOW 07 : NPO S-AIR and City of Sapporo

Mami Odai, Art Producer, NPO S-AIR staff

S-AIR was launched in 1999 as an organization to run the first artist-in-residence (AIR) programs in Hokkaido. In July 2004, S-AIR was registered as a NPO (Non-Profit Organization); in 2008, it celebrated the 10th anniversary. For the past ten years S-AIR has invited 57 international artists from 27 countries to Sapporo.
Read more

Artist in Residence NOW 06 : Youkobo Art Community ── The Little Art Space that Could!: My Belief in the artist-in-residence activity at Youkobo Art Space

Tatsuhiko Murata, Co-Director, Youkobo Art Space

I. Outline of Youkobo Art Space

Youkobo Art Space is a comprehensive art facility comprised of a gallery, working studios, and residential spaces. In particular, the Youkobo Artist-in-Residence program not only provides overseas artists with an opportunity to expand the scope of their activities in the unique and exciting metropolis of Tokyo, it also provides the people of the area with an opportunity to experience and enjoy a variety of genres of contemporary art. Up to the 1970s, the building that is now Youkobo Art Space was a clinic and sanatorium, and it has served as a space for a variety of art activities since the 1980s.
The Youkobo Art Community is a wide range of community activities centered on Youkobo Art Space, whose comprehensive art facility provides a platform for the cultivation, development, refinement, and transformation of diverse modes of artistic activity and communication. The fruits of this activity are seen in gallery exhibitions, contact among overseas and Japanese artists, and in art-related events in the local community and beyond.

Read more

Artist in Residence NOW 05 : Res Artis: Worldwide Network of Artist Residencies

Tatsuhiko Murata,Co-Director, Youkobo Art Space

The general meeting of Res Artis, the world wide network of artist residency programs, was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in October 2008. Here is the overview of the meeting.

Read more

Artist in Residence NOW 04 : Daimler Foundation in Japan

Keisuke Egashira, Director, Daimler Foundation in Japan
Akiko Hida, NPO Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT)
Interviewer: Sachiko Kanno, The Japan Foundation
Akemi Tsukada, NLI Research Institute

The Daimler Foundation in Japan funds the Art Scope, an artist-in-residence program, as part of their corporate scheme to support arts and culture. It is an exchange program in which young artists from Germany and Japan visit the other country; the Japanese take residency in Berlin and the Germans in Tokyo.  The program is unique and innovative. It is supported by a corporate entity with a long-term vision since its inception in 1991, and is currently run in collaboration with the Hara Museum and Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT) in Tokyo.
We interviewed Mr. Keisuke Egashira, the director of Daimler Foundation in Japan about the objective, practices and principles of the Art Scope program.

Read more

Artist in Residence NOW 03 : DANCE BOX & JCDN (Japan Contemporary Dance Network)

Iku Otani, Director, NPO DANCE BOX
Norikazu Otani, Director, NPO JCDN (Japan Contemporary Dance Network)
Interviewer: Akemi Tsukada, NLI Research Institute

Performing Arts has a history of residency-based production. Contemporary dancers, in particular, have embraced this style, co-producing perfromances with overseas companies and collaborating with artists from other genres.This is an interview with the members of the two leading dance NPOs, Mr. Iku Otani of DANCE BOX and Mr. Norikazu Sato of JCDN.
(* Refer to AIR-JAPAN Database for the details of this program)

Read more