Jury Report: Tilting Axis Fellowship 2021/2022

In autumn 2019, Het Nieuwe Instituut joined forces with Tilting Axis to offer a fellowship to an applicant based in the Caribbean. Cuban architect Fernando Martirena has been selected as the recipient of the Tilting Axis /Het Nieuwe Instituut Fellowship 2021/2022. Together with Anadis González, Martirena founded the architecture office Infraestudio in Havana in 2016.

See the announcement on the Tilting Axis website here.

Procedure

The fellowship is supported by Het Nieuwe Instituut as lead partner and host, and will include collaborations with the Amsterdam Museum, De Appel, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Kunstinstituut Melly. Between the announcement of the open call on 25 May and the deadline on 4 July 2021, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis received 10 eligible entries in response to the open call, from six territories in the Caribbean region: Aruba, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas and Suriname.

All the proposals were reviewed by a committee composed of the following members:

  • Holly Bynoe, independent curator and Tilting Axis co-founder
  • Aric Chen, Artistic and General Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut
  • Annalee Davis, visual artist, Founding Director/Fresh Milk, and Tilting Axis co-founder
  • Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Director, and Jessy Koeiman, Curator Collective Learning, Kunstinstituut Melly
  • Charl Landvreugd, Head of Research and Curatorial Practice, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
  • Imara Limon, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Amsterdam Museum
  • Marina Otero Verzier, Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut
  • Mark Raymond, Director of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa and the current Plym Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (spring 2021)
  • Monika Szewczyk, Director, De Appel

Proposals were evaluated on the basis of their engagement with the theme of the open call, and clear interest in the areas of research/practice and organisations highlighted in it. Four candidates were shortlisted and invited to an online interview with members of the selection committee on 15 July 2021. Following the interviews, the committee selected Fernando Martirena as the recipient of this fellowship. The other shortlisted candidates were A k u z u r u (Trinidad and Tobago), Sonja Dumas (Trinidad and Tobago) and Dr Ian Bethell Bennett (The Bahamas).

General Comments

The members of the jury were impressed by the relevance and timeliness of the projects, as well as the expertise and ambition of the applicants. The set of applications showed a variety of working methodologies and media, ranging from installations and architectural designs to performances, workshops, archival research and forms of public engagement and activism. The projects represent the creativity and power of the work developed by artists and intellectuals in the Caribbean.

The jury was pleased to have received applications from applicants based in all four linguistic territories of the Caribbean. Submissions responded to urgent themes including climate change, colonialism, de/colonisation, architecture found in nature, ritual, myth and paradise.

Further Reflections on the Open Call

Following this second edition of the Tilting Axis Fellowship, Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis, together with the partners, will consider how to further develop these collaborations across and beyond the Caribbean, acknowledging not only the inhabitants of these territories but also their diasporic communities and their histories.

Comments on the Selected Proposal

Cuba-based Fernando Martirena will use the fellowship to expand on building a body of knowledge on the different manifestations of what he terms the Architecture of Cruelty, and find those examples that react against it.

The jury felt that Martirena’s proposal was relevant and coherent and responded to the call in compelling ways. His submission articulated the prohibitive bureaucracy and difficult situation in Cuba in relation to architecture, and a desire to reflect on his immediate environment from afar. Furthermore, the jury was intrigued by his interest in working on the political character of architecture and in considering how to care for and think differently about the local challenges architects face in Cuba, as well as in other regions in the Caribbean and beyond, by mobilising the forms of collaboration, solidarity and engagement that the fellowship offers. His ambition includes the creation of a database, the production of a suite of collages, models, craft books and texts, and a deepening of his relationship with the archives so as to develop another understanding of the political implications of architecture and social-spatial practices, resonating with the fellowship partners’ interest in opening up their archival collections and spaces to greater scrutiny and interpretation.

Untitled (The Universal Art Museum of Cuba and the 5 Star Hotel Manzana Kempinski) by Infraestudio, 2020.

On receiving the news that he had been awarded the fellowship, Martirena shared this statement with the jury:

“Each city, each landscape, has its own political and social conflicts, increasingly similar everywhere. Architecture responds to latent conflicts, once they have already been resolved or forgotten: it always comes too late. It is the last representation of the economic and political power games of a territory. Inspired by the Theatre of Cruelty (The First Manifesto), by Antonin Artaud, my research seeks to build a body of knowledge on the different manifestations of cruelty in contemporary architecture and find those examples that react against it. Thus, I will illustrate dystopian but possible fantasies from a poetic and personal point of view, taking as examples the city of Havana and the political figure of the architect as a servant.

I will use the fantastic opportunity provided by the Tilting Axis Fellowship to investigate the current condition of my city and the many intersections that exist between architecture and politics around the world.

Once this is done, I hope to be able to make a mise-en-scène that not only talks about architecture, but makes architecture speak for itself. This will be possible thanks to the access to libraries, archives and interviews, and to the study time provided by the institutions associated with the fellowship. The final result will be a series of ideas whose documentation will be inspired by the ‘bookworks’ that Ulises Carrión made in Amsterdam in the 1970s. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity that I consider as both a gift and a challenge.” 

Biography

Fernando Martirena (b.1992) currently works and lives in Havana. He graduated from the Technical University of Havana, where he gave lectures on the theory and criticism of architecture. Martirena co-founded the art and architecture studio Infraestudio together with Anadis González. Infraestudio is a transdisciplinary practice interested in space, politics, the minimum and fiction. In addition to architectural projects, Martirena has produced books, collages, installations, urban research and editorial projects. His work seeks to illustrate the poetics of a minor architecture focused on ideas rather than forms. Currently, the studio has five buildings under construction, including the Line 508 Contemporary Art Center. Infraestudio has participated in exhibitions in the last two iterations of the Havana Biennial, the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, the Gorría Gallery Workshop and Cuban Art Factory.

Fernando is also Coordinator of the Cuban Architecture Studies Group. Being one of the protagonists of contemporary Cuban architecture, he has thoroughly studied its political and social condition, and has published critical texts about it in ArquineRialta Magazine and No Country Magazine. Other examples of his positioning towards national architecture have been the curatorship of two group exhibitions featuring installations, performances and digital art. He has also been one of the main activists and leaders of the Campaign for the Legalisation of Cuban Independent Architecture, which up to the present day remains illegal.

Caribbean Linked VI Launches Virtual Edition

The regional residency Caribbean Linked VI, co-managed by Ateliers ’89 (Aruba), The Fresh Milk Art Platform (Barbados) and ARC Magazine will be changing its focus this year in light of the severe impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon the lives of artists regionally. Caribbean Linked VI will be conducting all of its programming and support virtually from July 30th – August 31st, 2021, with live public conversations between the artists taking place on Wednesday, August 11th and Tuesday, August 31st from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm AST on each day. As usual, the residency’s programming supports creatives across the French, Spanish, English and Dutch speaking Caribbean.

Participating artists for Caribbean Linked VI include Claudio Arnell (Saint Martin), Taisha Carrington (Barbados), Romelinda Maldonado (Aruba), Akley Olton (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), Susana Pilar (Cuba), John Reno Jackson (Cayman Islands), Sarabel Santos-Negrón (Puerto Rico), Samuel Sarmiento (Aruba/Venezuela) and Béliza Troupé (Guadeloupe).

This residency will allow the participants to be exposed to the practices of other emerging Caribbean artists, providing an opportunity to strengthen regional connections and cultural understanding. This edition of Caribbean Linked is being conceptualised as a bridging year, with participating artists still scheduled to meet physically in August 2022 at Ateliers ’89 in Oranjestad, Aruba.

Now more than ever in light of COVID-19, it is critical to mitigate isolation and use available technologies to advance creative production, critical thinking and engagement. This preliminary remote encounter is focused on provisioning artists with dedicated studio time to make new works, while reinforcing the value of Caribbean artists’ practices and enabling their growth and development.

The writer in residence for the virtual edition will be Ethan Knowles, an emerging scholar and writer from The Bahamas currently studying in Rome, Italy. This year’s specially invited curators will be Sofia Olascoaga, an academic curator at MUAC (Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo – UNAM) in Mexico City, where she coordinates Campus Expandido an academic programme of critical theory, and Miguel A. López, former chief curator of TEOR/éTica turned independent curator living and working in Lima, Peru.

The month long residency will be supported by the generous funding provided by BankGiro Loterij Fonds, Mondriaan Fonds and UNOCA.

For more information or to request interviews with any of the participating artists, please contact the Caribbean Linked Team at caribbeanlinked@gmail.com, and visit our website caribbeanlinked.com to learn more about all editions of the Caribbean Linked residency programme.

Fresh Milk & the NCF launch three Digital Public Artworks

The Fresh Milk Art Platform, with support from the Cultural Industries Development Fund of the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados, has launched three Digital Public Arts Projects featuring works by local artists! Congratulations to Joshua ClarkeMohita Shenoy and Chris Welch, whose artworks are now exhibited on the Fresh Milk ArtBoard, a mural at St. George’s Primary School and a Fresh Stops Bus Shelter respectively!

Now more than ever during the global limitations we are facing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to think about how we as a society value the work of artists. Fresh Milk and the NCF seek to empower creatives and stimulate the creative economy in the island, especially during this very challenging moment, and are thrilled to have engaged with a range of artists at different stages of their careers and working across a variety of media including illustration, graphic design, photography and artificial intelligence to name a few.

Joshua Clarke on his piece:

“…The two works [I incorporated are] the Nelson’s History piece that tracks his personal story from young sailor to figure of heroism and horror in duality in the English Caribbean, and the Statue Fallen piece that draws on space opera & science fiction imagery to see the scar of Nelson’s idolatry rent asunder from the figure representing the island of Barbados. My hope [is that the piece] arrests the viewer as something simultaneously otherworldly but relentlessly Caribbean, pulling the dynamic color from the painting and the complex linework from the illustrative piece for a pop poster mashup that takes my two artistic directions and combines them in a way that can be communicated on a large scale.”

Mohita Shenoy on her piece:

“…Since lions are the mascots of [St. George Primary] school, I had the idea that the lions being portrayed are a sort of symbol, a spirit of the school that goes wherever the students go in life. The boy is shown to be reading (academics). The lion alongside him patiently allows him to lean against him, supporting him in his studies. The girl in the middle is playing soccer (sports), the lion cub at her side runs with her, again a symbol of moral support. The girl on the right is dancing (the arts). The lioness accompanying her winds around her, as if it wants to dance in support too.”

Chris Welch on his piece:

“…AI Chattel is a model that dreams of Bajan architecture, connecting the past, present and future of these unique structures. AI Chattel bridges the gaps between art, technology, culture and architecture. Machine Learning (ML) is the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience … I used an image dataset of 2500 chattel house images from around the island to train a Style GAN 2 (Generative Adversarial Network) model. The objective of this project is to show an important and yet mostly forgotten characteristic about architecture; architecture is alive, lives among us and is capable of stimulating our senses.”

There is also a QR code embedded in Chris’ work on the bus shelter, and the public is invited to scan it to learn more and to see the video component of his AI Chattel series.

This project is made possible in part by the Cultural Industries Development Fund of the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados. Special thanks to Colour XL for the printing and installation of the mural and ArtBoard, and to Adopt A Stop for the construction of the bus shelter.

Open Call: Tilting Axis Fellowship 2021

Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis launch the second iteration of a fellowship programme for mid-career or established applicants based in the Caribbean. The initiative aims to foster and stimulate mutual exchange between the Caribbean region and the Dutch cultural field. Together with lead partners Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis, other cultural institutions including The Amsterdam Museum, De Appel, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and Kunstinstituut Melly will collaborate with the selected applicant during the fellowship.

Applicants have until July 4th, 2021 to submit proposals for consideration. Please send proposals to ta-fellowship@hetnieuweinstituut.nl, attention: Tilting Axis Fellowship 2021 Review Committee. Late submissions will not be reviewed.

Who Should Apply?

One mid-career and established researcher, artist, designer, writer, curator, or cultural producer based in the Caribbean region interested in building new links with cultural institutions in the Netherlands, and who has an interest in developing their practice around themes related to architecture, spatial practice, design or digital culture.

Goals

  • To develop, stimulate and visualise curatorial, design and artistic realities coming out of the Caribbean region
  • To enhance knowledge exchange and collaboration with a cross-section of Dutch cultural institutions
  • To provide a variety of platforms for professional experience
  • To produce critical knowledge on inter-disciplinary exchanges as well as visual culture
  • To offer practical support and travel to the Netherlands for an extended fellowship
  • To engage with hosting and collaborating institutions to interrogate and challenge their institutional structures and methodologies
  • To utilise the existing Tilting Axis network

Applications

Applicants for the Fellowship are invited to develop an independent proposal outlining a clear interest in the areas of research/practice and organisations highlighted. The proposal should be content driven and can be based on already existing research or offer new projects. The Fellow is not expected to produce an outcome or finished artwork, yet will be encouraged to publicly present the ongoing research interests whilst in the Netherlands. The research will also be published on an ongoing basis via Het Nieuwe Instituut and partner institution’s website, newsletter or other publications.

The Fellow will be invited to:

  • Make a series of presentations in Rotterdam & Amsterdam at host and partner institutions on their research/practice;

  • Produce a monthly text/sound/video/photo essay (6 essays in total). The series of monthly texts will be posted on the websites of Tilting Axis and Het Nieuwe Instituut, with links to the partner institutions;

  • Research could lead to an installation, exhibition or further events at partner institutions during or after the Fellowship;

  • A final report on the Fellowship experience is required.

Format and Submission Requirements

The Open Call for 2021 is available from May 25, with a deadline for submission on 4 July 2021. The call is open to individuals. Applications should be submitted in a single PDF file of maximum 10MB. In order to be considered, proposals should include the following information:

  • A self-introduction in which applicants articulate the relation between their interests and the hosting/partner institutions. Departing from a curatorial, research or design and artistic ambition, we expect to see a statement of intent of maximum 1000 words. This statement should explain the applicant’s research focus, and its possible connection to architecture, design or digital culture, as well and the interest in the anchor and partner institutions.

  • Relevant documentation of previous work, and/or links to audio or video files (maximum 10 minutes) in the application PDF.

  • Indication of availability to take up the Fellowship from October 2021 – March 2022

Proposals should be written in English and applicants must have a working knowledge of English. While we understand that English proficiency may vary or that English may not be the applicant’s first or primary language, unfortunately, we are not able to offer translation support at this time. Applicants with specific questions are encouraged to contact ta-fellowship@hetnieuweinstituut.nl about the availability of any support service.

Applicants have until July 4th, 2021 to submit proposals for consideration. Please send proposals to ta-fellowship@hetnieuweinstituut.nl, attention: Tilting Axis Fellowship 2021 Review Committee.

About The Tilting Axis Fellowship

This fellowship focuses on applicants living and working in the Caribbean region and is both research and practice-led. The selected applicant will be based in Rotterdam at Het Nieuwe Instituut and will have access to other partner cultural institutions in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. A total stipend of 12,000 EUR will be granted by Het Nieuwe Instituut to cover living expenses and one round-trip airfare from any Caribbean country to the Netherlands. Accommodation will be provided for a period of six months for a maximum of 800 EUR per month. Stipends may be subject to a withholding tax. Specific details about the position will be discussed with the selected applicant. Developments around Covid-19 and any resulting government restrictions will be taken into account. This means that the fellowship might be undertaken remotely in part.

Read more about the first iteration of the Tilting Axis Fellowship, with architect and researcher Sean Leonard in 2020.

Knowledge Exchange

The fellowship will be developed through: independent research; individual support and interaction with the Research Department team at Het Nieuwe Instituut; monthly meetings to discuss thematic and methodological aspects of the project; and diverse collaborations with partner institutions.

Application and Selection Process

Applicants for the fellowship are invited to develop an independent proposal outlining a clear interest in the areas of research/practice and organisations highlighted. The proposal should be content-driven and can be based on pre-existing research or propose a new project. The fellow is not expected to produce an outcome or finished artwork yet will be encouraged to publicly present the ongoing research while in the Netherlands. The research will also be published on an ongoing basis via the website, newsletter or other publications of Het Nieuwe Instituut and the partner institutions. Apllication deadline is July 4, 2021.

Proposals will be considered by an international committee consisting of the Tilting Axis and Het Nieuwe Instituut teams, along with representatives from the partner institutions including curators, academics, and museum professionals. The review committee includes: Aric Chen (Artistic and General Director, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Marina Otero Verzier (Director of Research, Het Nieuwe Instituut), Holly Bynoe (ARC Magazine, Sour Grass and Tilting Axis co-founder), Annalee Davis (visual artist, Founding Director of Fresh Milk, and Tilting Axis co-founder), Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy (Director, Kunstinstituut Melly), Mark Raymond (Director of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa and the current Plym Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Monika Szewczyk (Director, De Appel), Imara Limon (curator of modern and contemporary art at Amsterdam Museum), and Charl Landvreugd (Head of Research and Curatorial Practice, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam).

Read more about the Tilting Axis Fellowship and the call for applications on the websites of Het Nieuwe Instituut and Tilting Axis.

Open Call: Transoceanic Visual Exchange 2021

Important dates:

Start of reception period: May 4th, 2021
End of reception period: June 30th, 2021
Community of curatorial practice workshops: July – August, 2021
Public announcement of results: September, 2021
TVE 4 2021: November –  December, 2021

Call for Works:

The Fresh Milk Art Platform (Barbados) and TEOR/ética (Costa Rica) are pleased to welcome submissions of recent film and video works – screenings, installations, new media and expanded cinema – by contemporary artists, to be included in the fourth edition of Transoceanic Visual Exchange (TVE), a series of programmes taking place online this year, with accompanying screenings in Barbados and Costa Rica.

Submitted works must have been completed in the last five years and must be made by artists practicing in the Caribbean and Central America.

TVE 4 will be a collection of recent artists’ films and videos from each region. However, the final shape and content of the programme will be informed by a community curatorial process, which aims to involve and promote discussion within the wider creative communities of each participating initiative.

Working between the Caribbean and Central America, TVE 4 aims to negotiate the in-between space of our cultural communities outside of traditional geo-political zones of encounter and trade. TVE intends to build relations and open up greater pathways of visibility, discourse and knowledge production between the regional art spaces and their publics.

Submission Requirements:  

  • Must be work from artists practicing in the Caribbean or Central America;
  • Must be work that has been completed/made in the last five years;
  • Can be films of any length (shorts, experimental, features and video artworks);
  • Can be in any language (films originally produced in regional languages are welcome);
  • Up to 3 submissions per applicant are welcome;
  • Must be accompanied by a description of the work (500 words max), a bio (200 words max) and details of any technical requirements i.e. audio, installation, equipment required, preferred setting etc.;
  • Works must be mp4 files no larger than 100MB, or Vimeo/Youtube links;
  • Works must not have been submitted to the previous edition of TVE;
  • Please specify whether your submitted works have permission to be exhibited on an online space, particularly as the virtual aspect of TVE 4 will be a significant focus of the programme.

Selection Process:

One of the core values of TVE is the model of community curatorial practice as opposed to one of solely contracting curators or hiring a jury to review submissions in isolation. This has taken the shape of open roundtable conversations with interested members of the community in each partner’s country/region, where current trends, concerns and interests in the areas of video art, film and new media are discussed. After these conversations, the partners will convene to select works which align with and reflect the research gathered, including the community’s input in the design of the final programme.

What TVE 4 Offers:

  • Each selected artist will receive a stipend of $200.00 USD for their participation in the programme;
  • Artists’ work will be showcased in a virtual exhibition on the TVE website, facilitated and promoted by the TVE partners;
  • Artists’ work will be exhibited or screened physically in Barbados and Costa Rica (pending safety and with COVID measures and protocols enforced);
  • The artists’ profile will be permanently housed on the TVE website, and their work will be widely promoted throughout Fresh Milk and TEOR/ética’s networks in the Caribbean and Central America;
  • The artists’ will have the opportunity to grow their own networks and knowledge regarding video arts and filmmaking practices across the Caribbean and Central America, deepening understanding between the two regions and opening up greater possibilities of collaboration.

Deadline for submissions: June 30th 2021

Click here for the online form for Caribbean submissions
Click here for the online form for Central American submissions

To view this open call in Spanish, visit TEOR/ética’s website here

For more information on TVE and its first three iterations, visit the website transoceanicvisualexchange.com


About the Partners:

Fresh Milk

Fresh Milk is an artist-led, non-profit organisation founded in 2011 and based in Barbados. It is a platform which supports excellence in the visual arts through residencies and programmes that provide Caribbean artists with opportunities for development, fostering a thriving art community.

Fresh Milk offers professional support to artists from the Caribbean and further afield and seeks to stimulate critical thinking in contemporary visual art. Its goal is to nurture artists, raise regional awareness about contemporary arts and provide Caribbean artists with opportunities for growth, excellence and success.


TEOR/ética

Located in San José, Costa Rica, TEOR/éTica is a private, independent, non-profit, dedicated to the research and promotion of contemporary artistic practices.

Throughout more than two decades, TEOR/éTica has worked as a platform that promotes the research and dissemination of contemporary art, with an emphasis on Central America and the Caribbean. It aims to create spaces for doubt, debate and the generation of critical thought relevant to its context. It does this through exhibitions, publications, talks, workshops, grants, an archive and a specialized library, understanding art as a common space from where to generate study and find other ways of being together that build collective learning.