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.

Tilting Axis Collections and Commissioning Fellowship 2019

The Tilting Axis Fellowship is a direct outcome of the Tilting Axis meetings in 2015 at Fresh Milk in Barbados, in 2016 at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and in 2017 at The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. For its 2019 iteration, Scotland based cultural partners including the Glasgow School of Art, The School of Art History at the University of St Andrews, CCA Glasgow, LUX Scotland, Hospitalfield and curatorial duo Mother Tongue have come together to offer support for a research fellowship to Scotland for an emerging contemporary art practitioner living and working in the Caribbean to share knowledge about current approaches towards commissioning and collecting in the arts.

For Whom?

Curators, researchers, artists, or cultural producers based in the Caribbean region who want to make new links in Scotland and have a keen interest in developing their curatorial practice. Applicants must have a working knowledge of English.

Goals

  • Develop, stimulate, support, and visualise curatorial and artistic realities coming from the Caribbean region;
  • Facilitate face-to-face communication in Scotland;
  • Offer free and open access to knowledge and practices;
  • Provide a stable platform for professional experiences;
  • Produce critical knowledge on educational tools as well as visual culture;
  • Focus on emerging practices;
  • Utilise the existing Tilting Axis network;
  • Offer practical support for the duration of the research trip in Scotland.

This Fellowship opportunity focuses on the development of pragmatic and critical curatorial and artistic practice hailing from the Caribbean region, and is research and practice-led, and mentor-based. The fellow will be invited to Scotland for up to one month from 1 October 2019 to undertake a period of open-ended research and development. Artists or curators may apply to undertake research for a mode of curatorial practice. The Fellowship is focused on alternative forms of Collections and Commissioning, in collaboration with partners across Scotland whose work focuses on various forms of collecting, archiving or supporting the development of artworks.

Within the Tilting Axis annual convenings, complexities of mobility, the politics of archiving, access and privilege, decolonisation, institutionalism, curatorial knowledge, pragmatics, and social realities have surfaced as keywords of urgency within Caribbean cultural ecosystems. We seek proposals that engage with the unique visual culture available in the Caribbean and what might be learned from its unexpected and innovative approaches. The Fellowship has an open-ended outcome, offering support for critical development of curatorial or artistic practice while giving a practical base within partner organisations to research different methodologies and institutional approaches.

Drawing on the specifics of the Caribbean region through processes of decolonisation, race, mobility, access and privilege and digitalisation, your proposal might approach actively how people live and work, and especially how contemporary art takes a responsibility to reflect and act on it. What are fears as well as potentials in these current times? Within such a complex geography, what are the challenges? What are the interventions? The Fellowship might support and expand these conversations on a mutual basis.

More information about each organisation’s core interests can be found below. It is expected that the Fellow will focus on a period of research with each organisation to mutually address some of these questions across the month-long residency.

The fellow will receive a fee of £1500 and a per diem to cover expenses and living costs whilst in Scotland. All travel and accommodation costs will be covered by the host partners. An itinerary of travel, meetings and public events will be arranged in collaboration with the successful applicant and partners, prior to the fellow’s arrival. The budget will be managed by the partners, and includes a winter clothing allowances of £300. The Fellow is also expected to participate in a public event or lectures in two or three Scottish locations, to share their knowledge, context and practice.

A contribution to the public blogs of British Council and CCA Glasgow as well as the Tilting Axis website will be required along with a final report on the Fellowship. Tilting Axis partners will work towards funding additional funds for the fellow to attend Tilting Axis 6, (location tbc) where the fellow can present on their experience.

Application

Applicants for the Fellowship are invited to develop an independent proposal outlining a clear interest in the issues 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 but will be expected to speak publicly about their ongoing research or interests whilst in Scotland.

Departing from a curatorial or artistic ambition, we expect to see a statement of intent of maximum 1000 words. This statement should explain the fellow’s research focus, respond directly to the keywords and thematics raised in the call out, and highlight reasons for visiting Scotland and/or the partner organisations. A separate artist/curatorial statement can also be supplied. Please also include a CV and two references, and an indication of availability from early October 2019.

The application should be submitted via e-mail to: Ainslie Roddick, CCA Glasgow Curator: ainslie@cca-glasgow.com.

The deadline for submission is 15 April 2019.

For more information on the fellowship and the partners, visit the Tilting Axis website here.

 


Tilting Axis Curatorial Fellow 2018

For the second year, Tilting Axis has facilitated, administered and designed an open call for our Curatorial Fellowship. In a strong partnership with the University of Texas at Austin Art Galleries at Black Studies we issued an open call to find and seek out a curator living and working in the Caribbean who would rise to the occasion to use the resources, collections and moment at hand to advance their practice in a nuanced and sensitive way. The jury panel comprising of Lise Ragbir, Joel Butler, Tobias Ostrander, Holly Bynoe, Annalee Davis, Eddie Chambers, Natalie Urquhart, Sara Herman and Mario Caro (9  in total) had the laborious task of deliberating an exceptionally strong pool of candidates from 7 countries.

The competition was stiff—reflecting the wealth of talent, and need for increased opportunities, for curators in the region. We are happy to announce that this year’s Tilting Axis 4 Curatorial Fellowship sponsored by and to take place at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded to—Natalie Willis, Assistant Curator at the National Gallery of The Bahamas.  At the University of Texas at Austin with access to collections of work by African American and Caribbean artists, Natalie hopes to look beyond nationalist dialogues and examine how shared history presents itself in different cultural phenotypes. As she says, “One root leads to many rhizomes and proliferations of blackness.”

About Natalie:

Natalie Willis is a British-Bahamian curator and cultural worker. Born and raised in The Bahamas, she received her BA (Hons) and MA in Fine Art at York St John University in the UK. Willis is currently working as an Assistant Curator at National Art Gallery of The Bahamas with a concerted focus on writing aimed at decolonising and decentralising the art archive, and adding to the literature on Bahamian and Caribbean visual culture and developing her burgeoning curating practice. Somewhere in a parallel universe, she still makes artwork.

As an emerging curator desperately trying to not contribute to the brain-drain of the Caribbean, she has dedicated her time at the NAGB to focusing on knowledge building and access through text and speaking to the way the colonial tourism of the late 1800s shaped the cultural and physical landscape of the Anglo-Caribbean.

Willis has been an invited speaker at the Caribbean Studies Association  Conference (2017), the Museums Association of the Caribbean Annual Conference (2016). Most recently, she took part in the Goldsmiths + British School at Rome Summer Intensive Course, themed “Curating the Contemporary”, in Rome in 2017.

Tilting Axis Curatorial Fellowship 2018 Open Call

As a direct outcome of the Tilting Axis meeting held at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands in May 2017, the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) Art Galleries at Black Studies has come together with Tilting Axis to offer a Curatorial Fellowship to an emerging curator living and working in the Caribbean.

This Fellowship opportunity focuses on curators living and working within the Caribbean region, and is both research and practice-led, and mentor-based. The Fellow will receive a maximum of USD$5,500 towards a fee, travel, accommodation and living costs. The Fellowship is supported by University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) Art Galleries at Black Studies.

This Fellowship includes round-trip airfare from any country within the Caribbean to Austin, Texas, where the Fellow will have access to private accomodation, in the award-winning home of Susanna and Richard Finnell, local collectors, for a period of four weeks. During this timeframe, the Fellow will be able to view and work with the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) Art Galleries at Black Studies’ Collection along with the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies Collection, and the campus libraries.

This Fellowship also includes access to the 800-piece private Christian-Green Collection comprised of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American art works, with a dedicated focus on works from Haiti. The Fellow will also have access to the Christian-Green’s Reading Room and will be mentored by Lise Ragbir, the Director of the Art Galleries at Black Studies at UT, with whom he/she will work to produce a fully funded exhibition in the Warfield Center’s Idea Lab Gallery, in the Fall of 2019.

Application Process:

Proposals will be judged by an international jury consisting of curators, academics, and museum professionals, after which shortlisted candidates (3) will be invited for an interview via Skype.

The Fellow will be selected on the basis of a letter of interest stating how this opportunity and access to collections and archives would inform and develop their curatorial practice, and why they think they would be a good candidate. The proposal should be no longer than 1000 words, and can be submitted to: tiltingaxis@gmail.com.

Please enclose CV and two references.

The Fellowship will be conducted over a four week period in either the Fall semester of 2018 or the Spring semester of 2019. Exact dates to be determined in consultation with the mentor.

The submission deadline for applications is May 18th, 2018, and the Curatorial Fellow will be announced at the upcoming Tilting Axis 4 meeting in the Dominican Republic on May 31st – June 2nd, 2018.

Jurors will be:

  • Lise Ragbir, the Director of the Art Galleries at Black Studies at The University of Texas at Austin
  • Eddie Chambers, Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin
  • Holly Bynoe, ARC Magazine, The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and Tilting Axis co-founder
  • Tobias Ostrander, Senior Curator, PAMM
  • Mario Caro, board member of Res Artis, Tilting Axis partner
  • Annalee Davis, Fresh Milk Barbados, Tilting Axis co-founder
  • Natalie Urquhart, Director, The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands
  • Sara Hermann, Visual Arts Consultant, Centro Cultural Eduardo León Jimenes
  • Joel Butler, Visual Arts and Exhibitions Coordinator, Centro Cultural Eduardo León Jimenes