Art in the art residencies – International conference in Warsaw



From 16 to 19th  of November in Warsaw was held an international conference of art residences and East Europe Res Artis meeting under the motto “RE-tooling residencies”. The host of this event was the center for contemporary art in Ujazdowski castle. The aim of the meeting was to make working in network easier. Organizations that support and develop the international exchange of art residencies were given the opportunity to teach new stuff. And more specifically RE-tooling residencies is a two year project of the organization Res Artis, directed for improving the co – operation between East and West cultural institutions and art managers of Europe. Development for Gorna Lipnitsa Association was among the participants, represented by Dimitar Palov.
Mr. Palov would you explain us what does actually an art residence mean and is there anything specific about its creation, because the conception sounds very abstractive?
In fact the word art residence can be determined as a place, home or a center for art. This is a place where artist can gather together and make their projects and in the same time it`s a place where you can work in seclusion. On the meeting we were told that these residencies can be established anywhere – in airports, public buildings, schools, museums. Despite of that any effort for establishing a residence should be considered by the local municipality and an agreement should be made.
What was the purpose of the conference in Warsaw and who was organizing the whole thing?
Meetings like this have been made every year. There you can find people which job is to establish new residencies and people who run and sponsor such. Of course we shouldn`t forget the artists themselves. They are an unchanged part of such meetings and without them the color of the initiative is lost. The aim of those meetings is people to share their experience for art residencies , to exchange ideas and to help each other in establishing these places of art.        
Res Artis is a world network which unite art residencies and more than a 200 centers for art in 50 countries stimulating artists from all over the world to make art. Res Artis is established in 1993 as a voluntary organization it the art sphere. Its aim is artists from different parts of the world to meet each other.
The ring-leaders have provided materials, leaflets and presentations about every participator. We shouldn`t miss to tell about the support from the center for contemporary art in Ujazdowski castle and the art residence there – a.i.r. laboratory.
Next year the meeting will be on 5th to 10th of October in Montreal, Canada.
Why Development for Gorna Lipnitsa Association decided to participate in this forum?
Development for Gorna Lipnitsa Association has began an initiative for establishing an art residence in Gorna Lipnitsa village which we intend to be called “The old school”. The place for establishing art residence in the village is the school building. It is unfortunately closed and the whole building made with a lot of work and money now is abandon. The place is interesting and any artist decided to seclude himself and to make art will be predisposed to creative ideas. It is suitable for any kind of art – photography, fine arts, restoration, art installations, wood-carving and icon-painting.
It is statutory that the first meeting of artists in “The Old School” would be in the beginning of the summer next year. Except Development for Gorna Lipnitsa Association behind this initiative are also “Ime”Association and the European forum of experts.
Would you explain to us what was happening during the days the meeting was held?
The event took place for four days. The first day the meeting was opened by an exhibition and press conference which was presented by the organizers, representatives from the city council of Warsaw and representatives from the Polish Ministry of culture. We were invited to take part in the exhibition. It was showing how does the artists live and work – every artist have send personal belongings and works. The things that were exposed vary from personal ID`s, toothbrushes, paintbrushes, leaflets and other materials to even a young naked artist sitting and holding his legs. The future art residence “The Old School” joined the meeting with leaflets and presentations about the artists working in Gorna Lipnitsa village. I want to note that our leaflets have been made by “Bratstvo-Pavlikeni” library which chairwoman is Darina Miteva and especially the person who helped us most is Iordan Pramov. I want to thank both of them for the good work. The second day was Tuesday and then the real part began – lections and group activities. The first topic was about how one art residence could be financed, different programs and organizations of worldwide importance were shown working namely in that direction. For example UNESCO – which is financing the costs of living in art residencies of those artists who are working in definite spheres of art, for example visual arts, fine arts, creative writing. Other similar organizations which are working in countries near Bulgaria were presented, too. 
Two workshops were held. Their purpose was to help the organizations and artists to clear their aims and the ways they are going to reach them.
The last day of the meeting was about visiting interesting places connected with the local art. For example Raster Gallery – one of the most important and significant for the art private galleries in Warsaw, established in 2001 y., working installations in public places like the seventeen meter neon installation which was like a glass of soda with pink bubbles, which were spreading around and glitter, making a feeling of pureness and softness. There was also a vanguard institute which was situated on the last floor of a building in the center of Warsaw.
Is it now clear what should have been done for the smooth going of such an art residence?
There are few things to be done for the good organization of such an event. First and very important is to have suitable conditions to carry on. And it is not important if the conditions are not shine and bright like in a 5 star hotel, for example. It is important that the environment is suitable for making contacts.
The other important thing that we have learned from the presentations is that the artists should be selected very careful. We should know where they come from, what is their age, even what is their religion and that is because we should make a symbiosis between the artists. We have to made them feel good but not press them. When an artist is invited you shouldn`t expect that he would leave any kind of product. One of the topics was about an artist – girl who has worked in an art residence for about three months. First two months she has been very capricious and haven`t talked to anybody. But on the third month she got attracted by the fast food eating in the town so she began to collect and made sculptures by plastic spoons. And that was the final product she left.
This example shows how an art residence can work – you invite an artist without giving a subject for work. For example artists come for three months and do whatever they like to do – going to the library, watching cinema, painting. The aim is to make symbiosis between the artists so they could share experience between each other and finally change the place like they want in a free way. During this time they voluntary or involuntary meet the local people and learn their way of living. Often a language teacher is provided for teaching them the local language.
 There was shown a German organization that finance art residencies. This organization gives the artists a year long stay which includes a place for living and lessons for studying German language. They don`t give the artists a subject for work. One of the artists during this one year stay has made a photo picture research about the twins in the city, aged from 3 to 73 years.
Another way was shown when the art residence doesn`t have enough funds to finance the artists. It was explained that artists come for a week get a view from the place and then go back to their homes and work for about a year. After that they come back to the residence and show what they have created. This is because a week is very short time for an artist to create something. I`m working that way, too. When I make wall-paintings I go to the place connected with the theme gather information and take pictures, after that I paint the walls in the “St. Ivan Rilski” temple for more than a year.
Res Artis suggested less people for more time than vice versa, they also suggested that each style should have one artist only – for example one painter, one photographer, one sculptor.    
Is there redeemability from the art residencies?
Art residencies could be redeemable if they are good managed. Money can come from several things – one is the public works of an artist, another is if the residence is a part of a strategy for developing the tourism or popularizing the place. But it`s better not to wait for redeem, residencies should be financed by different financial programs which however is very difficult.   
Are there enough art residencies in Bulgaria?
We can definitely say that there aren`t. In the official internet site of Res Artis there is only one situated in Plovdiv. There might be others as well which I don`t know about. I hope that with the next year`s initiative Gorna Lipnitsa will start a tradition and more and more residencies will be established. Bulgaria needs fresh ideas, artists and scene where art could take place.
The idea about the residence in Gorna Lipnitsa is to function on definite dates in the beginning and later to become everyday functional i.e. to work and receive guests during the whole year. Artists going around the world and passing through Bulgaria should be able to stay in the residence every day of the year – they will be granted a place to sleep, eat and work. Something likes an art hostel. Except that, the artist will be free to meet people connected with art in Bulgaria. The idea is that in future this place could become a cultural center which works permanent.
You mention castles. Could you tell us more about Ujazdowski castle where the conference took place?
This is an old castle which is reorganized for modern art at that moment. Art like contemporary music concerts, experimental movies, video-art installations, workshops connected with art, exhibitions and performances. During the conference there were presented modern Polish artists ArturZmijewski (
/artykuly/os_zmijewski_artur), АlicjaZebrowskaс with the video installation “The birth of Barbie” and others.
In Ujazdowski castle there is also the center for contemporary art which is established in 1989 y. Every year there are more than a 400 events. The guests of these events are professionals, artists, students. They are all connected by the art in their everyday life.  
The program Artists-in-residence (a.i.r.) is created in 2002 y. as a part of the center for contemporary art. It is because of the center`s international activity and especially for creating a conversation between the artist from all over the world who are taking part in the center. A.i.r. Laboratory in fact is the art residence in the castle for the foreign artists.
As a representative of one art residence which is now learning how to walk could you generalize was the visit of that conference useful for Development for Gorna Lipnitsa Association?
I could definitely say that it was useful. This is our first time we are trying to make art residence and the conference gave us a lot of ideas, we also learn a lot of ways how to manage and organize such residence. We also made a lot of contacts which we will use later.
Dimitar Palov during the conference
Exhibition of the personal belongings of the artists
The symbol of Warsaw
Warsaw again
 The Ujazdowski castle
02 Feb, 2010
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