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.

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: Tilting Axis Fellowship 2020

Het Nieuwe Instituut has joined forces with Tilting Axis to offer a Fellowship to one mid-career to established applicant based in the Caribbean. The Fellowship is supported by Het Nieuwe Instituut as lead partner and host, and will include collaborations with the Amsterdam Museum, De Appel, The Black Archives and Witte de With.

For Whom?

Mid-career and established researchers, artists, designers, writers, curators, or cultural producers based in the Caribbean region interested in building new links with cultural institutions in the Netherlands, and who have an interest in developing their practice around themes related to architecture, spatial practice, design or digital culture.

Goals

  • Develop, stimulate and visualise curatorial, design and artistic realities coming from the Caribbean region.
  • Enhance knowledge exchange and collaboration with a cross-section of Dutch cultural institutions.
  • Provide a variety of platforms for professional experience.
  • Produce critical knowledge on inter-disciplinary exchanges as well as visual culture.
  • Offer practical support and travel to the Netherlands for an extended Fellowship.
  • Engage with hosting and collaborating institutions to interrogate and challenge their institutional structures and methodologies.
  • Utilise the existing Tilting Axis network

About the Position

This Fellowship focuses on applicants living and working within the Caribbean region and is both research and practice-led. The selected applicant will be based in Rotterdam at the Het Nieuwe Instituut and will have access to other partner cultural institutions in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. A total stipend of 12,000 Euros will be granted by Het Nieuwe Instituut to cover living expenses and one round-trip airfare from any country within the Caribbean to the Netherlands. Accommodation will be provided for a period of six months for a maximum of 800 Euros per month. Stipends may be subject to a withholding tax. Specific details about the position will be discussed with the selected applicant.

 

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.

This Fellowship includes access to and collaborations with:

Het Nieuwe Instituut: The fellow has daily access to the facilities of Het Nieuwe Instituut, including the library, archives, exhibitions, workspaces and presentation spaces. Other resources may be available in concert with other departments of Het Nieuwe Instituut as well as its ongoing institutional partnerships.

The Amsterdam Museum: The fellow has access to the facilities at the locations of the Amsterdam Museum, including the library, archives, exhibitions, workspaces and presentation spaces. The team is willing to have in-depth conversations with the fellow and encourage proposals by the fellow for a (public) event such as a talk, screening or a different form of presenting their work and research.

De Appel: The fellow will have daily access to the facilities of De Appel, including the library, archive, exhibition, workspaces and presentation spaces. The archive is specialised in performance arts and contains books, magazines, drawings, letters and ephemera. The team and Curatorial Programme participants are also ready to welcome the fellow and provide contacts, feedback and are happy for the fellow to learn from new voices coming from De Appel.

The Black Archives: The fellow may choose to present the progress of their research during a public talk at The Black Archives in Amsterdam. While hosting a public talk, the fellow will be able to engage with our audience about Black and Caribbean histories.

Witte de With: The fellow may choose to participate in a dedicated public programme at Witte de With to present existing or ongoing research on contemporary visual arts or cultural developments in the present. Alternatively, the programme could be organised as a private session, in the form of a think tank, professional networking event, or similar, with the goal of discussing the fellow’s research topic or share information collected to date. Whatever format is chosen, this programme would be organised within the frame of the institution’s collective learning initiative.

 

Application

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 disseminated 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;
  • make a presentation at the Tilting Axis meeting in 2020. The aim is to support the fellow’s travel to Tilting Axis 6, hosted by the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas in Nassau.

A final report on the Fellowship experience is required.

 

Format and Submission Requirements

The Open Call will be available from 16 September, 2019, with a deadline for submission on 17 November, 2019. 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 April – September 2020

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.

Proposals can be submitted to: ta-fellowship@hetnieuweinstituut.nl and copied to tiltingaxis@gmail.com with the subject ‘Tilting Axis Fellowship 2020 | The Netherlands’

Selection Process

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:

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a phone interview with members of the selection committee.

 

About the Organisers

Tilting Axis

Tilting Axis is a roving meeting, pivoting on a Caribbean axis from which all other coordinates are viewed, understood and measured, facilitating alliances and increasing visibility of Caribbean contemporary art practice. It was co-founded in 2014 by Annalee Davis of The Fresh Milk Art Platform and Holly Bynoe of ARC Magazine Inc.

From its inception, Tilting Axis has grounded its concerns in the Caribbean as a part of a wider creative ecology, and the health, evolution and advancement, a primary objective of its annual meetings held inside and outside of the region. As a part of its expanded team. The core team also includes Dr Mario Caro, independent curator, board member at Res Artis, and Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Tobias Ostrander, independent curator; Natalie Urquhart, Director of The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands; and Lise Ragbir, Director of Galleries of Black Studies, University of Texas, Austin, USA.

Tilting Axis is the organisational platform that manages the annual meetings and coordinates the Fellowships in partnership with host institutions.

About the Partners

The Fellowship is organised by Tilting Axis in collaboration with a group of six Dutch partners led by Het Nieuwe Instituut, who will co-host the fellow in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam Museum

The Amsterdam Museum tells the story of the city of Amsterdam; about its past, present and the future. The museum considers it its social mission to make the story of Amsterdam accessible and to present it to as broad an audience as possible. We develop exhibitions, events, publications and other public products, in our museums as well as online. Innovation, hospitality, diversity, (international) cooperation and knowledge exchange are some of our most important values. The museum receives more than 500.0000 visitors each year on its four permanent locations in the heart of the historic city.

De Appel

De Appel is an Amsterdam based contemporary art institute that brings together people, objects and ideas to explore the unknown. With an experimental, open-minded and inclusive focus, the programs of De Appel serve the intellectually and emotionally curious, (non-) specialised art enthusiasts as well as seasoned art professionals.

De Appel organises exhibitions, performances, film screenings, lectures and gatherings that cross boundaries between the arts and other disciplines. These programs facilitate artistic and socially relevant dialogues with various cultural and societal organisations, both in Amsterdam and beyond.

In addition, De Appel is home to a world-renowned curatorial programme and houses an extensive archive and library. De Appel is continuously developing its programs and goals in order to remain critical towards its changing societal and cultural contexts.

The Black Archives

The Black Archives is a unique historical archive for inspiring conversations, activities and literature from Black and other perspectives that are often overlooked elsewhere.

Het Nieuwe Instituut

Het Nieuwe Instituut is the Dutch Institute for Architecture, Design and Digital Culture. The institute combines a research-driven museum, the State Archive for Architecture, the Agency for international programmes and for 2019 an un-official Academy under the title Neuhaus.

In an era characterised by radical technological, economic, cultural and social shifts, Het Nieuwe Instituut aims to illuminate and map the quickly changing world and foster discussion of it, in a networked fashion, with architects, designers, artists, knowledge institutes, cultural organisations and other agents. The institute organises exhibitions, lectures, and fellowships, carries out and publishes research projects, and develops international programmes at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Salone del Mobile in Milan, the Istanbul Design Biennale, and the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture in Shenzhen, among other forums. All Het Nieuwe Instituut’s activities are grounded in the principles of design and innovation – two concepts bound up with changing value systems and conflict.

Witte de With

Founded in 1990, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art was conceived as an art house with a mission to present and discuss the work created today by visual artists and cultural makers, from here and afar. It organizes exhibitions, commissions art, publishes, and develops educational and collaborative initiatives. This non-profit institution has especially worked with artists, and engaged audiences, who are interested in posing challenging inquiries and articulations of our present. While its program considers the contemporary, it also regards how art has been created and experienced in the past, and it imagines the futures art can come to shape.