A portrait of the artist as a resident

Volksbuehne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz will publish in December 2006 an extended programme book to accompany the festival Intimate strangers. Next to an essay on the work of Meg Stuart, it will contain the cluster ‘A portrait of the artist as a resident’. This original collection of texts was edited by the philosopher Dieter Lesage upon an invitation by Sarma and the performing arts journal Etcetera. The publication includes contributions by philosopher Dieter Lesage, philosopher Boris Buden and visual artist Hito Steyerl, theatre maker Jan Ritsema, choreographer Martin Nachbar, writer Tanja Dückers, visual artist and DJ Ina Wudtke. In December ‘A portrait of the artist as a resident’ will also be published in Dutch in Etcetera and in English by Sarma on the project website www.b-kronieken.be .
Sarma invited Dieter Lesage to untangle one of the threads that make up the knot of ‘internationalism’ in which the performing arts community is enmeshed. This prompted Lesage to reflect upon the phenomenon of the ‘artist’s residency’:
“In the fields of dance, theatre, music and literature, but even more so in the field of visual arts, many artists assure their living for certain periods by applying for residencies. A considerable number of grants for artists indeed consist of an invitation to live and work for a certain time in a certain place, institution, studio, etc. As an effect, artistic production is more and more determined by conditions linked to the status of being an ‘artist in residence’. At the same time, the artist who doesn’t produce essentially for the market, and wants to preserve his/her autonomy in the realisation of his/her artistic projects, is more and more obliged to take into account the conditions that are to be met with when applying for residencies.
The primordial condition for residence grants is of course the obligation to move to that other place. In that sense, every ‘residential’ artist is in the first place a migrant, had to become a migrant in order to be able to be an ‘artist in residence’. At the same time, the cosmopolitan artist, moving from one residency to the next one, is under the pressure to link up his/her projects with local problems, themes, issues, etc – in order to get those grants in the first place. (…)
An attempt to dress up a ‘portrait of the artist as a resident’ thus touches on questions related to issues such as migration, globalisation, locality and nationality, and involves a discussion of concepts such as ‘project’, ‘exchange’, ‘in situ’. Eventually, it is also about life ‘itself’ and its trivial and less-trivial demands. How does one manage the housing problem, for example? Can one actually ‘live’ in an artist’s studio? Does one even need a ‘studio’ to work as an artist? In the age of digital media, many residency programs still display great pride in studios with perfect light conditions for painters... And of course, there is no internet, because that would only distract the artist who takes his inspiration from the perfect calm of the green surrounding areas...Or to the contrary, there is only internet and nothing else (so you just move to another work station...).”

A portrait of the artist as a resident 01|12|2006 publication in Etcetera  

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