The topic of discussion for the forum this afternoon is Residency Mobility. Art professionals Chia-Jen Chen, Yu-An Liao, I-Hua Lee, and Yi-Hsin Tzeng are invited to share their own residency experiences. This collective group of people consists of arts organization and residency site team members, as well as artists. They held different views on AIR programs in general, and had gained much energy from their own residency experiences abroad. How did Open Contemporary Art Center, Taipei Artist Village, and artistsYu-An Liao, Yi-Hsin Tzeng see the process of Residency Mobility?
Chia-Jen Chen: Thaitai- art exchange between Taiwan and Thailand
Chia-Jen Chen, the Director of Open Contemporary Art Center, shared his experiences assisting visiting Thai artists as part of the Thaitai Project. From video shooting, tofu making, to painting peonies in Chinese ink style, the members of Open Contemporary Art Center applied their own creative processes as artists themselves to assisting foreign artists in Taiwan. Margaret Shiu mentioned in the forum that to “host artists with artists” could prevent awkward miscommunication and moreover foster a creative environment of higher quality, allowing visiting artists to focus on their own art practices. Organizations such as Open Contemporary Art Center, however, did not own living quarters and were not considered formal art residency sites. That was why Bamboo Curtain Studio, a residency site with living spaces, became an excellent partner for these organizations. For instance, a group of Thai artists resided at Bamboo Curtain Studio while working with the artists from Open Contemporary Art Center during the Thaitai Project this year.
Yu-An Liao:Asia New Sealand Foundation Exchange Program
Yu-An Liaomentioned that he had no residency experiences prior to his trip to New Zealand. He had worked solely in the studio before but decided to see the outside world and break from the confined space through this residency opportunity. He had hoped to visit Japan but was granted the trip by Asia New Zealand Foundation instead. He traveled to New Zealand with an open mind. Yu-An Liao mentioned that artists should not become merely tourists when situated in an unfamiliar place. They should carry their talents in observing things with them and investigate and get to know more people. Many interesting experiences could be gained this way.
Yi-Hsin Tzeng: Participating in Residency Programs is an Ongoing Journey
Yi-Hsin Tzeng began participating in residency programs when she was a graduate student in the United States. At first, her participation was merely a buffering strategy to reduce the impact of the expensive living costs in the States. Eventually she discovered a path that could help her work develop through multiple conversations with different peoples and cultures.
She said that residing in different sites allowed for more in-depth investigations on races, cultures, and topics of discussion. She also mentioned that she began her reflection on her home country in ways that she had never done before. Living in a foreign land enabled her to think about her experiences growing up in a natural way. For instance, the reverence for Dr. Sun Yat Sen as well as Chiang Kai Shek became a contestable element for the image of ruling leaders. She thus “defaced” leaders of many different countries in her work to reflect on the essential quality of a “face.”
Are the Expectations of Artists Turned into a Long Waiting Process?
A few forum participants mentioned the common misconception between artists and residency sites that originated from artits’ lack of understanding for the sites, as well as the sites’ lack of understanding for the artists’ projects. If the artists only had a few weeks’ time in the program, they would either create work of high quality unexpectedly, or sacrifice their work during the process of inefficient communication.
From an artist’s perspective, a good residency site would allow one to think and work freely and comfortably. A good residency site, however, does not match every good artist. One needs to adjust his or her mind and do some research prior to the residency. A mindset open to investigation and communication would inspire more creative energy when working in a foreign land.
Margaret Shiu and Bamboo Curtain Studio have been conducting research on international art exchanges as well as art residencies around the world for many years. We provide residency consultation and welcome artists to pay us a visit. You may also visit our official website for initial research.