How can we re-shape art practice in a way that supports collaboration, transdisciplinarity and purpose? This was the question I had to ask myself last summer when I was invited to co-organize a creative residency of a different kind. I had known BecomeBecome nomadic residencies from my own work as an artist interested in transdisciplinary learning. This time, however, I was primarily a facilitator for other artists to expand their practice. What resulted was an experience that exceeded our expectations.
In collaboration with Green Rooms Arts Hotel and Arebyte Gallery in London, we brought together 12 artists and curators from nine countries practicing in media as diverse as painting, sound, installation, sculpture, photography and performance. From established artists to those working on university level and emerging artists, I found myself surrounded by an exceptional group of creative individuals who all came to the residency for different reasons while sharing one key motivation- to transform their practice beyond the confines they had imposed on themselves or experienced in other settings.
What we quickly noticed is that the relative isolation which often characterizes studio practice can lead to creative practitioners getting stuck in a head space, where every idea has to be pre-meditated and every move has to be justified in the light of maintaing a strong and coherent practice. The narratives, hierarchies and conceptual molds that exist within much of the art world had proven useful at some point in history, but as humans of the 21st century we all understood that the time had come to delve into a more expanded approach to art making.
The residency focussed on tapping into all aspects of perception- emotional, intellectual and physical- while capitalizing on the collaborative dynamic of the group. The process-based nature of the residency allowed artists to produce new work during their time, immediately incorporating the newly gathered feedback, while engaging with the local neighborhoods around Green Rooms and Arebyte Gallery. Through syncretic exercises for idea generation, visual feedback workshops, body movement labs and studio time, we witnessed the transformation of tentative ideas and modest artistic expressions into full-blown pieces- spaces where practitioners could dare to act on the new idea and expand it into a greater vision for their work.
I came to witness that in so many cases what we can not do for ourselves, the group can do for us. Breaking beyond the rigid separation between art media, schools of thought and hierarchies, we learned to give ourselves permission to not create for a target audience or with the critics’ words ringing in our head, but to create from the space that only we can offer to the world.
The 10 days culminated in an exhibit that resonated with many visitors. Not only was there a genuine appreciation for the artist’s visions and the collectively curated space; we also engaged in compelling conversations about new collaborations with other London organizations, forging bonds with people who only seconds ago had been strangers. An integrated approach to creative practice- beyond outdated notions- rang true across the art community that gathered at the gallery on opening night.
As this year comes to a close and we look ahead into the future, it seems more than clear that we will see significant movement in the direction of open collaboration and transdisciplinary, process-based learning, both on side of artists and organizations. So how do we create a practice that supports collaboration, transdisciplinarity and purpose? The answer to this question may look very different for each person, but for us the answer was clear- by supporting the uninhibited inner vision of the artist, breaking old patterns through collaborative feedback loops, and trusting in the process that can only unfold in a group of enchanted individuals.
Leigh Bridges (Canada) www.leighbridges.com
Mario Rodriguez (Mexico/Spain) www.mareorodriguez.com
Katrin Bruder (Austria) www.katibruder.com
Tia Vellani (Ireland) www.tiavellani.weebly.com
Tyler Moorehead (US/UK) www.tymolondon.com
Manuel Ávila (US) www.manuelavilaprojects.com
Samina Virani (UK) www.saminavirani.com
Katie Steinberg (US) www.katiesteinbergart.com
Jill Laudet (UK) www.laudet.weebly.com
Ivana Pinna (Italy) www.ivanaprojects.com
Xenia Kudrina (Russia) www.zart.space
Giselle Hee Lee (South Korea)