Tilting Axis: Game-Changing Regional Art Conference on Sustainability in Caribbean Visual Arts held in Barbados

Participants of the Tilting Axis 2015 conference. All photographs by Sammy Davis.

Participants of the Tilting Axis 2015 conference. All photographs by Sammy Davis.

The visual arts conference, ‘Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean – Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity‘, was held in Barbados on February 27-28, 2015 and was dedicated to forging infrastructure between several independent art organisations and museums operating across the Caribbean, U.S., E.U., and China. The conference is a game-changing development for sustainable economic development in regional visual art.

The two-day conference brought together the diverse leaders of these visual art development organisations to negotiate strategic regional and international alliances for the formalisation and further development of infrastructure, production and markets for Caribbean art.

The conference was organized by The Fresh Milk Art Platform, Inc., where the event was held, in collaboration with ARC Magazine, Res Artis and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Tilting Axis was supported by the Arts and Sport Promotion Fund Committee (Barbados), the Davidoff Art Initiative, the British Council and the Prince Claus Fund.

Among the more than thirty invited participants were Annalee Davis, Founding Director of The Fresh Milk Art Platform (Barbados); Holly Bynoe, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine (St. Vincent & the Grenadines); Tobias Ostrander, Chief Curator, and Maria Elena Ortiz, Assistant Curator, of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (USA); Mario A. Caro, President of Res Artis (Amsterdam); David Codling, Director Arts, Americas, British Council (Colombia); Natalie Urquhart, Director of the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands; Amanda Coulson, Director of art fair VOLTA NY and Director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; Deborah Anzinger, Artist and Director of Kingston-based visual art initiative NLS (Jamaica); Nicholas Laughlin, Co-founder of Trinidad and Tobago-based backyard space, Alice Yard; David Bade and Tirzo Martha, Co-directors of Instituto Buena Bista (Curaçao); Elvis López, Director of Ateliers ‘89 (Aruba); Remco De Blaaij, Curator at the Centre for Contemporary Art (Glasgow); Max Slaven and Ellie Royle, Co-Directors of the David Dale Gallery & Studios (Glasgow); Jessica Carden, Co-founder of Mother Tongue (Glasgow); Solange Farkas, Director of Videobrasil (Brazil); N’Goné Fall, Independent Curator and Co-Founder of GawLab (Senegal); Raquel Paiewonsky, Co-founder of the artist collective Quintapata (Dominican Republic); Kira Simon-Kennedy, Co-founder China Residencies (USA/China); Malaika Brooks-Smith Lowe, Co-founder and Director of Groundation Grenada, Marsha Pearce, Senior Editor of ARC Magazine (Trinidad); Caryl* Ivrisse Crochemar, Director of 14°N 61°W (Martinique). And from Barbados participants included Janice Whittle, curator of Queens Park Gallery and representative of the National Cultural Foundation; Therese Hadchity, Art Historian; Joscelyn Gardner, Artist; Llanor Alleyne, Artist and Writer; Katherine Kennedy, Artist and Directors’ Assistant at ARC and Fresh Milk; Versia Harris, Artist and Fresh Milk volunteer; Sammy Davis, Fresh Milk volunteer and Tonika Sealy, Independent Cultural Producer.

L-R: Mario A. Caro (President of Res Artis), Annalee Davis (Founding Director of Fresh Milk), Tobias Ostrander (Chief Curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami) and Holly Bynoe (Co-founder & Editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine).

L-R: Mario A. Caro (President of Res Artis), Annalee Davis (Founding Director of Fresh Milk), Tobias Ostrander (Chief Curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami) and Holly Bynoe (Co-founder & Editor-in-chief of ARC Magazine).

According to co-organisers Holly Bynoe and Annalee Davis, the conference seeks to create opportunities for visual artists living in the Caribbean and provide professional and economic development in the region through formal collaborations between key art organisations and foundations across the Caribbean and beyond. The conference also aims to build and redefine relationships around cultural exchange between the Global North and the Global South.

“It is not just about contemporary art. One of the tasks we have undertaken at the Pérez Art Museum Miami is the building of Caribbean art histories in the consciousness of the American public. We see the Pérez Art Museum as strategically placed to undertake this,” stated Tobias Ostrander.

From the conference, a strategic action plan for continued collaboration was developed after a reflection on the two-day discussion.

“In creating markets for contemporary art in the Caribbean, we are developing the ecosystem and all the underlying components that drive that market: The environment for artists to make great work; art writers, researchers and funders to help make that work accessible to the public; international museums and galleries to show the work; advisors and dealers to get the work placed in collections. Shared programming, exchanges, and educational initiatives developed between the institutions present addressed these key components,” stated Deborah Anzinger.

Tilting Axis 2015

Tilting Axis 2015

One of the mandates issued to the participants of the Tilting Axis conference is to tighten strategic networks in their home countries. The organisers of the conference also expect to expand the invited participant list for the next meeting which will take place in 2016.

Annalee Davis stated in her welcome address that “Many of us working in the region have been speaking with one another, in some cases for many years, but today is the first time that artist-led initiatives have come together from the Dutch, Spanish, French and English territories to meet physically in the Caribbean. It is critical that this gathering is taking place on Caribbean soil, and that we consider the visual arts sector from within the archipelago as a counterpoint to the many decisions that have been and are often made about the region externally.”

Mario A. Caro expressed his enthusiasm for the collaborations to be developed between members of Res Artis, a worldwide network of art residencies, and organizations in the Caribbean. “It is clear that the cultural sector in the Caribbean is undergoing exciting and, at times, dynamic changes, and many of these have to do with relationships being established with new partners around the globe. The increase in the mobility of artists through art residencies, both into and out of the region, is one critical factor.”

Holly Bynoe echoed positivism: “The meeting of professionals who are actively engaging and challenging collaborative strategies acknowledges the changes rippling across the Caribbean, and reaffirms the critical value of innovative emerging networks. As more eyes are turning to look at this space, we need to be cognisant of what they are seeing, and consider how and what we want them to experience. Tilting Axis aspires to become a conduit; supporting the professionalisation of artists and formalising engagements, leading to greater visibility and accessibility of contemporary Caribbean art.”

Tilting Axis 2015

Tilting Axis 2015

»Redefining Practice« Reflections with Maj Hasager

During her ongoing residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Katherine Kennedy – current fellow in the ResSupport programme supported by Res Artis, representing the Fresh Milk Art Platform at the Akademie – had a conversation with Danish artist and Solitude fellow Maj Hasager reflecting on integrated & socially aware ways of looking at artistic practice. Read the article, originally published on the Akademie Schloss Solitude Blog, below:

Maj's studio at Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Maj’s studio at Akademie Schloss Solitude.

When we speak about art, we often use the word »practice« as a multipurpose term to cover the thinking, the making, the product…all the processes that build towards something such as an exhibition or a clearly defined project. But what about the moments that occur in between, not necessarily linked to a finished piece? Where do ‘non artistic’ tasks fall in the realm of this all encompassing »practice«, and how do our actions influence or become part of our artistic work? These questions led to a discussion between Katherine Kennedy and Maj Hasager, both fellows at Akademie Schloss Solitude. Read more about their talk below:

I began my exchange with Maj by introducing the Fresh Milk Art Platform, a Barbadian cultural arts centre and residency programme, and ARC Magazine of contemporary Caribbean art, the two spaces I work for; speaking about these organizations has become almost second nature to me.

It was when Maj asked about my own art »practice« that I suddenly felt unsure…I wondered, as I showed her my artist website, is this reaction backwards? The balance between making work and my other roles is something I continue to struggle with, and there are a number of doubts that arise when I confront it; am I still an artist? Will I produce work again? Have I given up my »practice«? I’m not unique in these crises…these are common questions faced by many artists whose lives teeter between other jobs and responsibilities.

Maj's studio at Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Maj’s studio at Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Maj and I spoke about these anxieties, which had interesting associations to the MA programme she leads at Malmö Art Academy, Sweden, called Critical & Pedagogical Studies. This degree crosses the supposed boundaries between art, theory and pedagogy, framing relationships between production, teaching, administration and curatorship as »integrated practice« rather than distinct disciplines. While the stretch between one actual creation to the next may be long, that doesn’t negate the importance of what happens in those gaps, or the larger impact of knowledge transfer to personal and public creative growth.

I could already see how the importance of circulating information and operating in intermediary ways was applicable to the work of Fresh Milk and ARC; the foundations we are trying to lay for contemporary art in the Caribbean can very much be read as »social practice«, and affect the wider context I work within, along with my individual outlook. We spoke about whether there was a chance to marry this social »practice« with my visual one; the interconnectivity of art and life means that things are rarely as separate or stagnant as they may seem, and dormant seeds of production may just need the opportunity to flourish. We were both in agreement that Solitude can be considered fertile soil, with the freedom afforded to map out and nourish these connections.

Maj Hasager, Decembers – performing a past, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Maj Hasager, Decembers – performing a past, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Maj’s personal »practice« also exemplifies hybridity. In addition to her academic pursuits, she negotiates delineations between history/lived reality; archive/interpretation; geopolitical North/South; utopia/dystopia. She took me through some of her multimedia work, which is heavily driven by communities and their geographical and socio-political positions in the environments they inhabit. Displacement is a common theme in her »practice«; she has conducted socially charged projects where she speaks and works with immigrant or underrepresented populations, such as the Filipino community in Italy, or documenting the perspective of Polish women during the solidarity movements of the 70s and 80s. The space she explores is a limbo of sorts; neither dwelling explicitly on the past nor idolizing the future, but the somehow honing in on the forgotten present, and how these communities function – or »practice« – in daily life, which inherently retains the weight of history and the possibility of tomorrow.

Relational »practice« is the core of her work, taking into account and being organically informed the multiple cultures she encounters. The drastically different points of view between herself and the societies she engages are not lost on her; she acknowledges that she is coming from a position of privilege, and does not try to overshadow the voice of the community. As a citizen of an island that is often defined from the outside rather than within, I appreciated this concession, and the genuine interest Maj takes in authenticity when treading this fine, complex line. For example, in her work Decembers – performing a past, 2013 there is no translation from Polish of the exchange between women of a certain generation sharing their stories – this is not done to exclude viewers, but to allow them to enter the moment and feel the dynamic without being distracted by divisive constructs such as language:

Spilled in the language’s veins
A militant regards
When will words be
A tool for something other

– Thom Donovan

Film still: Contemporary dancer Maria Concetta Borgese in ‘Bifurcating Futures’, directed by Maj Hasager.

Film still: Contemporary dancer Maria Concetta Borgese in ‘Bifurcating Futures’, directed by Maj Hasager.

This excerpt is taken from a poem by American poet Thom Donovan, whose work Maj used in a recent project that she directed and was editing while at Solitude. A departure from the usual way in which she works, the piece titled Bifurcating Futures is more abstract; it features a performance by a contemporary dancer interspersed with moving shots of an empty city and stanzas from Donovan’s poem, all overlaid with a haunting track of urban sounds, warped into a futuristic, ominous refrain that echoes the dystopic landscape. The dancer, deliberately chosen for the experience and maturity her body brought to the role, performs a series of gestures in the space, always inaudible but never truly silent. The piece straddles new media and documentary filmmaking, challenging Maj’s usual »practice«, but still referencing themes such as feminism, futurism and creating a platform for the unheard.

What remained with me after our meeting is that we have the artistic license to define »practice« as we see fit; we can use residencies as creative incubators for our work, but »practice« comes from lived experience. Even if not specifically deemed »social practice«, it still absorbs our thoughts, actions and interactions with others, and in the end, cannot be predicted, relegated or compartmentalized – only manifested, one way or another, in the direction we channel it.

Read the original article on the Akademie Schloss Solitude Blog here.

ARC Magazine shares Akademie Schloss Solitude’s Call for Applications and Q&A with the Director

The call for applications to undertake a residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany is open until October 31, 2014. Read an interview here between Katherine Kennedy – current fellow in the ResSupport programme supported by Res Artis, representing the Fresh Milk Art Platform at the Akademie – and the programme’s founding and artistic director, Jean-Baptiste Joly. The conversation reveals more about the Akademie’s mandate, the relationships built between the institution and the residents, and interest in cultivating ties with the Caribbean arts community. 

Read the interview originally conducted for ARC Magazine below:

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Katherine Kennedy: Founded in 1990, Akademie Schloss Solitude will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Can you share with us the original mission of the Akademie, and in what ways it has been realized, grown and adapted over this time?

Jean-Baptiste Joly: The Akademie was established, so say our statutes “in order to promote art and culture…in particular by awarding residence fellowships to emerging artists and organizing artistic encounters, seminars and conferences, performances, readings, concerts and exhibitions by fellows and guests…” When it was opened to artists in July 1990, the former prime minister of Baden-Württemberg that initiated the project said he wanted a black box for artistic research, hidden in a Baroque castle. This is still what Akademie Schloss Solitude is doing, but many things have changed in our practice since: In 1996, we created the new fellowship program for art coordination; young people working in the field of culture as managers, being brought on as both staff members and regular fellows in the house. This totally transformed the dynamic between staff and fellows, making them more fluent, less frontal. With their daily contribution, these fellows cover the grey zone that is always growing between the everyday life of artists and the administration.

In 2002, we founded the new program art, science & business, promoting dialogue between these three not necessarily connected domains of human activities. Since that time, the Akademie can really affirm its interdisciplinary thoughts and practices. I couldn’t put a precise date to another major change, but in the last couples of years we had to react more flexibly to the planning of Solitude’s studios, accepting that artists split the time of their residencies, coming twice or three times for shorter periods. People, especially artists, want to be simultaneously in different places, constantly having to move – they become nervous when they stay at the same place too long. This is a sign of our times, and has its downside. The best thing we can offer to our guests is a time that belongs to them, not to the institution, a time at your disposal, not stolen by urgent and often not so important necessities. In general, artists finally understand this, sometimes just too late…

KK: Residencies exist as critical cultural institutions, set apart from museums or galleries mainly due to instances of encounter and possibility taking precedence over preservation or output. Tell us about the space provided by the Akademie, and how it is conducive to these flexible journeys of discovery, reflection and creation.

JBJ: Museums and Libraries have the task of conserving cultural goods; schools ensure the transmission of knowledge through teaching; theatres make public (or should make public) the crucial problems of our civilisation. These are, since the time of the ancient Greeks, the different modes of transmitting culture. Residencies take over parts of what theatres, schools and museums do, but they have another task that is publicly less immediate: selecting artists (yes, residencies decide who is an artist and who is not!) and supporting them, giving them time, space, material, facilities and contacts. By doing so, they contribute largely to the individual life of artists. They also make the art scene they are located in more international, more permeable to otherness and difference.

Residencies also have an open way of re-thinking the contract between artists and institutions. Besides the necessity of staying at the Schloss two thirds of the time of the fellowship (and accepting an invitation for dinner every month), Solitude-fellows have no other obligation. This generous approach gives the Akademie the possibility of permanently re-inventing the relations between artist and institution, redefining it to accommodate a flexible exchange between the two sides, alternatively giving and taking.

The Akademie Schloss Solitude Yearbook 12 – Because of Solitude

The Akademie Schloss Solitude Yearbook 12 – Because of Solitude

KK: The Akademie’s residency programme is open to applicants worldwide – not only to visual artists, performers and writers but also to scholars, scientists, economists etc.; anyone who is thinking laterally about their practice and wishes to engage with other like (or unlike) minded individuals, programmes or environments. How important is diversity, both culturally and disciplinary, in shaping the residency experience at Solitude? Are these connections maintained after the fellowship period is over?

JBJ: At the end of the nineties, I observed how new artist fellows arriving at Solitude could localize or even classify another artist in a matter of minutes: where did you study, where did you exhibit or perform, which biennale etc? Too fast, too easy… This was one of the reasons why we founded the art, science & business program. When artists, scientists, engineers or managers are speaking together, they have to integrate the differences that oblige them to explain from the very basics how they work and think. In such an exchange, nothing is taken for granted. The notion of diversity is also related to the presence of fellows from all over the world having very different conditions of life and artistic production. In that manner, Solitude is really international and aware of cultural diversity.

The question of the connections between the fellows is another one, and for us a crucial point: the best way to evaluate the quality of the work done by an artist residency is to check what happened afterwards. Are the former Solitude-fellows successful? Are they in contact with each other? Are they in contact with the institution? In the internal newsletters addressed to our board members or to the local government, this part of the report is one of the most important because its legitimizes our work from an external, objective perspective. Indeed, we receive many mails of former fellows mentioning that Solitude not only provided good material support, but also offered new possibilities of cooperation and friendship.

KK: Have there been many fellows or applicants to the Akademie hailing from the Caribbean? In recent years, many creative platforms have emerged in the region, prioritizing the cultivation of relationships and networks that comprise forward thinkers and progressive institutions. Is there interest on the part of the Akademie to deepen engagement with the Caribbean, and perhaps take part in these exchanges and collaborations?

JBJ: Not so many fellows, I remember four from Cuba and from Jamaica, living at the time in Mexico, in New York and in Europe. Few artists apply from the Caribbean, probably because we are not yet well known over there. But remember this too: We are not a big machine like a ministry or like Goethe Institute with a worldwide network of employees and organizations. We just try to embrace the world with a staff of 11 people, working on 3,500 square meters in a castle nearby Stuttgart! But in short: yes, we are always interested in forming new connections and contacts, including in the Caribbean! Sometimes, not always, these contacts will grow to a real exchange and partnership. Isn’t it the very reason we invited you, Katherine Kennedy, as a fellow of Akademie Schloss Solitude?

Read the original interview on ARC Magazine here, and see more information about Akademie Schloss Solitude’s open call for applications below:

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Call for Applications: Akademie Schloss Solitude

For the fifteenth time, Akademie Schloss Solitude is granting approx. 70 residency fellowships of three to twelve months in duration. More than 1,200 artists from more than 100 countries have developed and advanced projects at the Akademie since its opening in 1990, creating a close-knit, global network of Solitude alumni that expands from year to year. The Akademie persues an intense exchange between artistic and scientific disciplines. With the art, science & business program the transfer of knowledge and experience between these fields can be deepened to create new synergies of creativity, inventiveness and management.

International artists are invited to apply from the following disciplines: Architecture (design, landscape architecture, urban planning), Visual Arts (including performance art), Performing Arts (stage design, dramatic texts, dramaturgy, musical theater, performance, direction, drama, dance), Design (fashion, costume, product and furniture design, visual communication), Literature (essay, criticism, poetry, prose, translation), Music/Sound (interpretation, sound installation, sound performance, composition) and Video/Film/New Media (including video installation, fiction and documentary).

Furthermore, scholars, scientists and professionals from the disciplines of the HumanitiesSocial Sciences (with a focus on culture and the politics of space), Economy/Economics (with a focus on urban policy), and Culture & Law (with a focus on authorship) are invited to apply.

At the beginning of a new application round, the Akademie stipulates a new central topic within the context of its art, science & business program which is designed to include not only fellows from all disciplines, but external specialists too. The Akademie views art, science and business as complementary rather than separate activities, which interact dynamically and encourage mutual productivity. To this end, fellows are selected in the fields of art, science & business, internal and public events are organized and publications are released. All fellows – artists, scientists and economists – are free to participate in projects related to the central topic.

Following a suggestion by the current jury chairman, Kaiwan Mehta, the Akademie will be organizing its art, science & business program around the central topic Biography and the Production of Space. With this central topic, the Akademie would like to initiate a comprehensive interdisciplinary discussion about the production of spaces – which can be physical, virtual or imaginary– as an individual as well as social phenomena with implications in economy, art, literature, and sciences.

Persons up to 35 or if older who have completed a university or college degree within the past five years are welcome to apply. Currently enrolled university or college students (at the time of application) will not be considered for selection. Each fellowship recipient is granted Euro 1,100 per month, in addition to free lodging.

For additional information on the residency programme, application process and selection jury members, see the Akademie Schloss Solitude website here. Application deadline is Friday, October 31, 2014 (Postmark/End of Online Application).

​As of July 1, applicants will find all information, be able to register and download the application form or apply online on the application website.

ARC Magazine announces Katherine Kennedy’s Fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude

ARC Magazine shares Katherine Kennedy‘s first report from Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. Katherine was selected on behalf of Fresh Milk to participate in the ResSupport Fellowship programme offered by Res Artis. During her 3 month tenure, she will be a resident correspondent, interacting with the personnel and fellows, conducting interviews, and extending the wealth of the Akademie’s programming to our community. Read more below:

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The best way I can describe both the past few and upcoming months would be transitionary. Working in the arts is flexible by nature, but at times it feels even more crucial to be receptive to change when operating in the context of the Caribbean and contributing to platforms such as ARC Magazine and Fresh Milk. The missions of both initiatives overlap and synergize in their commitment to maintaining critical, creative spaces of encounter, acting as ‘cultural labs‘ whose agendas surpass nationalistic thinking with the larger, holistic good of the region in mind. These are ambitious goals that both ARC and Fresh Milk rise and adapt to in a number of ways on an ongoing basis, and goals that can only be achieved through open mindedness to new ideas, new people and new environments.

I applied in the capacity of Assistant to Director at Fresh Milk to the ResSupport Fellowship programme offered by Res Artis, a worldwide network of over 400 residencies of which Fresh Milk is a member. The fellowship is described as an “exchange program of cultural workers at residency centres…[providing] the occasion to increase organisational consciousness, strengthen the bonds, and also generate knowledge and cultural sharing among the members of the Res Artis network.”

These ideas of exchange and knowledge transfer immediately resonated, having always been at the heart of our work, and I was honoured to have been selected to travel to Stuttgart, Germany to be hosted for three months (September 1 – December 1, 2014)  by Akademie Schloss Solitude. In addition to gaining insight into how this prestigious residency centre is run and fostering relationships with the staff and resident artists, I will be acting as a correspondent on behalf of Fresh Milk and ARC, sharing information on the Caribbean contemporary art scene and in turn extending my experiences and information gained at the Akademie with our networks throughout the region. I’m aiming to ensure that this journey is not a drop in a pond, but can lead to future collaboration and be mutually enriching for all involved – large goals seem to come with the territory, but the very existence of opportunities such as this is proof that there is a real desire on both sides for meaningful engagement.

The transition from Barbados to Germany is taking place, and even as I take the time to orient myself here I am eager to absorb as much as I can, having hit the ground running. But while this shift in my location and commitments will be more than a drop in a pond in the greater scheme of things, it has still produced ripples in the daily functioning of both initiatives I am representing.

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While I am abroad, Barbadian artist and regular volunteer at Fresh Milk, Versia Harris, will be stepping in and interning as Assistant to Director in training, exemplifying the importance of investing in the development of emerging artists and equipping them with the necessary skills to confidently enter professional environments. Similarly, ARC has recently inducted three interns into its fold – Katherine Agard, Varala Maraj and Natalie Willis – who have each been applying their talents and doing a fantastic job at working cohesively with ARC’s core team. Witnessing the domino effect of knowledge transfer that is already branching out from all sides feels very special to me, and can only stretch further and further as time passes and each new experience gets added to the mix.

Transition is also a form of evolution. New ideas, new people, new environments; all of these continue to come together to spell progress, growth and fresh prospects in ways that we envision reaching far beyond my tenure in Germany, with the input of so many incredible individuals and institutions working in tandem to create and circulate new possibilities. In this spirit, I’ll finish by sharing Akademie Schloss Solitude’s current call for applications to their next residency cycle below – perhaps it will be the first point of departure from this fellowship for new discoveries and opportunities for others:

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Call for Applications: Akademie Schloss Solitude

For the fifteenth time, Akademie Schloss Solitude is granting approx. 70 residency fellowships of three to twelve months in duration. More than 1.200 artists from more than 100 countries have developed and advanced projects at the Akademie since its opening in 1990, creating a close-knit, global network of Solitude alumni that expands from year to year. The Akademie pursues an intense exchange between artistic and scientific disciplines. With the art, science & business program the transfer of knowledge and experience between these fields can be deepened to create new synergies of creativity, inventiveness and management.

International artists are invited to apply from the following disciplines: Architecture (design, landscape architecture, urban planning), Visual Arts (including performance art), Performing Arts (stage design, dramatic texts, dramaturgy, musical theater, performance, direction, drama, dance), Design (fashion, costume, product and furniture design, visual communication), Literature (essay, criticism, poetry, prose, translation), Music/Sound (interpretation, sound installation, sound performance, composition) and Video/Film/New Media (including video installation, fiction and documentary).

Furthermore, scholars, scientists and professionals from the disciplines of the Humanities, Social Sciences (with a focus on culture and the politics of space), Economy/Economics (with a focus on urban policy), and Culture & Law (with a focus on authorship) are invited to apply.

Persons up to 35 or if older who have completed a university or college degree within the past five years are welcome to apply. Currently enrolled university or college students (at the time of application) will not be considered for selection. Each fellowship recipient is granted Euro 1,100 per month, in addition to free lodging.

For additional information on the residency programme, application process and selection jury members, see the Akademie Schloss Solitude website here, or visit our Opportunities page.

Application deadline is Friday, October 31, 2014 (Postmark/End of Online Application).

​As of July 1, applicants will find all information, be able to register and download the application form or apply online on the Application website.

ARC Feature Portfolio: Ewan Atkinson’s ‘The Neighbourhood Report’

ewan portfolio

The online presence of Barbadian artist Ewan Atkinson’s latest body of work, ‘The Neighbourhood Report’, has been growing steadily, furthering the cryptic narrative of the group of characters he created.

Assistant to director at Fresh Milk and ARC Magazine Katherine Kennedy interviews the artist to shed some light on the background of the project, and about what to expect – or not expect – from the intimate and seemingly incriminating glimpses the audience is granted with every new update. Read more below:

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‘The Neighbourhood Report: A compendium of Neighbourhood esoterica presented in ordered disorder by various denizens.’ This is the verbose introduction the visitor is met with on the virtual home of Barbadian visual artist Ewan Atkinson’s latest body of work. The Neighbourhood Project has been a long-term investigation of Atkinson’s into the lives and surroundings of an assortment of fictional characters he has created, stemming enough from the artist’s life and influences to be relatable, while being shrouded in enough mystery to weave a fantastic tale of intrigue. Each online update to the series feels like it renders the viewer privy to the secrets of the Neighbourhood, almost putting the audience in a position of power when we learn about or catch the characters in incriminating moments of seeming indiscretion – but we cannot take that at face value, much like many of the updates fed through social media each day.

I ask Ewan if he can shed some light on the fascinating series – but not too much, of course. Just like the reader must decipher the introduction, the ‘ordered disorder’ is also left to the viewer to translate. The more you follow the scenes offered in the report, the more invested you become in its community; and the more acclimatized you become, the further you are thrown when appearances are not what they seem.

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Katherine Kennedy: Can you give us some background to the Neighbourhood Project, which has been an ongoing series of yours for a number of years?

Ewan Atkinson: The Neighbourhood started with a rather cartographic exploration of a fictional, ever-changing geographical space. It transformed quickly because my interest in narrative made a series of characters a mandatory addition.  I explored these characters in drawings and photographs. It was, and still is, a performative task. I ‘play’ each character with costume or image manipulation, my features are the building blocks for each character. I was interested in certain factors that influence the development of an individual persona: nationality, education, circumstance, concepts of self and of community. The deeds of this motley crew are culled from my own experiences, family anecdotes and a diverse range of cultural influences. This started as a way to reconcile whatever I had experienced with whatever I had read, watched or been told. It was about connection, about belonging somewhere, I wanted to see if anyone else was on the same page (or station). While these themes and influences are still present, lately I have become obsessed with additional elements: the production of meaning itself (why we impart significance and why we long to share it) and narrative as a device for deception or escapism, intentionally or otherwise.

com·pen·di·um:

a brief treatment or account of a subject, especially an extensive subject.

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KK: Please tell us how the previous manifestations of the project evolved into your current growing body of work, ‘The Neighbourhood Report’.

EA: There was a lot of time in-between one group of work and the next. If I wanted an audience to be able to understand the scope of the project, that what I had produced up to that point and whatever might come in the future was part of an intersecting web of narratives, I had to find a way to bind them. The Neighbourhood Report aims to do that. It supports the physical work.  Yes, it’s a sketchbook of sorts, but as far as narrative is concerned it’s prologue, newsflash, interlude, flashback, and appendix all at once. The report was also conceived as a personal exercise. I hadn’t been making anything on a regular basis. I had been tossing ideas around in my head for too long, thinking too much. I needed to release some pressure and force myself to let it out.

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KK: ‘The Neighbourhood Report’ is housed online, and utilizes sites like Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. Do you see social media as an important part of this work? Would you consider the pieces leaving the virtual space and functioning in, for example, a gallery setting?

EA: Online dissemination was an obvious choice. I wanted to utilize the way in which images function on social media, they can appear and disappear with relative ease, but there is also an archival element, and of course with virtual networks the broadcast radius is indeterminable.  These observations are nothing new, it was just my turn to play with it. I love the idea that they are only digital, that the images don’t physically exist even though they appear as though they might. Their construction relies on illusion, an illusion that toys with the desire to covet an object, no one can hold them or own them. When people ask if they can buy one, I tell them they already have it.  Yet, I have not ruled out physical manifestations. My love of books makes a collection of beautifully bound volumes more than appealing, but for now, it’s up in the air.

es·o·ter·i·ca:

things understood by or meant for a select few; recondite matters or items.

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KK: A theme which seems to be present in many of these pieces is one of transgression, and how these transgressions are perceived by both the viewers and the characters themselves within the series. How significant is capturing these moments of indiscretion to the work?

EA: When a state of belonging is in question, transgression is always a crucial modifier. But what I’m really digging at are the factors that build impressions and suggest purpose, this lies somewhere between the personal and the communal. I try to present moments or pieces of information that are seemingly “pregnant”, informed by dubious context and ripe for picking (apart). There’s shame and shamelessness all over this place. Has a transgression indeed occurred?  What signifiers construct this impression?  Where does meaning lie (or lie)?  It is not clear whether there is significance or not; in fact, it is the very possibility of inherent significance that I attempt to obscure. In a broad sense, it’s a shameless exercise in absurdism. I allude to complex webs of meaning, and the references are diverse, but I’m also a big fan of red herrings. Who you gonna trust? ;)

Read the original review on ARC Magazine.

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