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Planning the Next Stage of Artists' Residency
Planning the Next Stage of Artists' Residency
Writer : Soung Hyo RYU _ Representative of Indie Space AGIT 2012.04.02 Asia > Japan

Planning the Next Stage of Artists' Residency
[FOCUS] Yokohama - Kyoto Performing Arts AIR Meeting

The Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program isn't just about providing a creative space for artists. Recently, the artist residency program with growing interest at home and abroad, international meeting called Performing Arts AIR Meeting, was held in Yokohama and Kyoto past February in connection with TPAM in Yokohama. The following is the introduction of the current status of residencies in Japan and Asian region, and in-depth discussion on the next step of residency by the planners.

                  'AIR in Asia' session

Residency of Asian Performing Arts

Through 'AIR in Asia' session, various residency facilities and programs in the Asian region were introduced. In the case of the Chang Theater which is operated by world renowned dancer and choreographer, Pichet Klunchun, the location offers a different inspiration to the artists than other parts of Thailand because it's located in a region where the mainstream religion of Buddhism and the minority religion of Islam coexist. The Chang Theater minimizes the pressures of the residency program that can come as an obligation to the artists, and provides a freer atmosphere and an opportunity for the artists to assimilate into the region. It's a residency program that views the responsibility of work, rest, and contemplation in the same light.

The Attakkalari Center for Movements in India, like most space being operated by government support, is implementing such activities as supporting art creation, education, expanding experiential opportunities for the local community, and improving local image. However, the center is maximizing its advantage as it is located in a region that is famous for science and information technology, and it plans to create programs that will connect art, media, and science in the future.

China's Living Dance Studio See related article from theApro and Malaysia's Rimbun Dahan See related article from theApro are typical resident spaces that centers around dance. The Rimbun Dahan is unique in that the main operating body, which is bound to influence the nature of the space, is made up of the representative Bilqis Hijjas' family. The fact that this is a 'space operated by owner's funding' has the advantage of goal-oriented direction according to the operator, but on the other hand, there is a challenge regarding how the resident artists might effectively maintain exchange with the local area.

In Korea, the representative Seok-kyu CHOI of AsiaNow, which is more like a performing arts management service rather than a space specializing in residency, presented the value, direction, and methods that can be given to the residency during the creation and distribution of artworks. Another residency space called Indie Space AGIT introduced the fact that it centers around the artists of sub-culture genres that cannot be accommodated by other residency spaces, and also unlike typical residencies where the creation of art itself is the key purpose, it makes social participation and expression as the main instrument and purpose.

The Foundation of Creative City, Yokohama

As the meeting itself is held going back and forth Yokohama and Kyoto, there was a program that made visits to residencies in Yokohama, Kobe, and Kyoto. The Steep Slope Studio which is located on a fairly low hill is a case of utilizing an old wedding hall since 2006, and under the policy of creative city Yokohama, it is being used as a facility for residency, and program for art education and experience for the local community by centering around performing arts. The space is being operated centering around a opportunistic program where the artists interact with the local artists and people while carrying out their own creative activities during their residency, and the program also centers around utilizing the characteristics of the local spaces such as nearby zoos.

The Koganecho area which transformed the spaces under elevated train tracks and surrounding areas of brothels into an artists' cultural district is a model example of urban redevelopment by utilizing culture. The brothels' typical rows of small spaces has been converted into cafes, workshops, studios, and art shops so as to provide the local people with opportunity to meet artists and their works anytime. This is a similar case of 'trans-culturation' such as the Hostel Village Project which opened the residential area for a group of temporary workers at the Yokohama Port in Kotobukicho to tourists, and the Coco Room which is serving as a cultural space and providing shelter at the slums in Osaka. The officials in charge of operating the facilities and programs of Koganecho Area Management Center in Koganecho area announced that there were assessments regarding such things as awkwardness of intervention by space and program in the process of brothels removal and trans-culturation, and explained they will implement the future aim of 'co-existence of art and society' through enhanced programs of social intervention and analysis, and through special events which will all be based on regional research.

Steep Slope Studio (Yokohama) Koganecho (Yokohama)

Villa Kujoyama (Kyoto) Villa Kamogawa (Kyoto)

Regional Residency Connecting Kansai and Abroad

Dance Box is primarily a dance theater located in Kobe City, which is around two hour high-speed train ride west from Tokyo. The theater started in Osaka in 1996 and moved to Kobe which is in the same area of Kansai in 2009, and now it operates a 120-seat theater, a studio, and a residency facility. The residency program of Dance Box puts more emphasis on the understanding and experiments discovered during the collaborative process with diverse nationalities and genres, rather than focusing on the creation of art itself. Results from this residency produces such outcomes as the Kobe-Asia Contemporary Dance Festival, various workshops, and theater performances. The Dance Box residency is progressed through the following three forms: 'Artist in Asia', which takes place for a month aimed at dancers and choreographers in Asia other than Japan; 'Artists, Scholars and Curators', which is for dancers in Asia other than Japan or writers, scholars, and curators who work in connection to dance; and finally 'Kobe-Maizuru Exchange Program', which is aimed at dancers and choreographers outside of Japan.

The Kyoto Art Center, where the regional events of the Performing Arts AIR Meeting was held, is a multi-genre cultural art center that is being operated since 2000 by utilizing a closed-down elementary school almost in its original structure. It is mainly involved in projects such as discovering and supporting young artists, distributing materials through cultural art-related information gathering and research, and managing domestic residency program. The residency program is being alternated yearly between performing arts (even numbered years) and visual arts (odd numbered years), and the residency programs are opened to artists and planners in the respective fields.

In Kyoto, there is also a residency facility that is being directly operated by the French Cultural Center and Goethe Institute located in Kyoto. The Villa Kujoyama, operated by the French Cultural Center, is aimed at artists of French nationality or artists who has stayed in France for more than 5 years, regardless of the their artistic genre. Since 1992 to this date, it has invited over 150 artists and researchers. The Villa Kamogawa, being operated by the Goethe Institute, opened last year, and it aims to strengthen artistic exchanges through artists in Germany and Japan. These two cultural centers are much like the countries' cultural centers in Korea as they pursue exchange projects along with their own native language academies, and the cultural exchange projects focus on creating a base for artist exchanges through operating residency spaces rather than through special programs or events. The administrators of each space participates in arts festivals in order to link such residency spaces and the local community, and are expanding their network by promoting collaborative research with local universities in order to realize practical collaboration.

Through other sessions, the Saison Foundation in Tokyo and other residency operating organizations and their programs from all over Japan were introduced.

Remaining Challenges for the Next Step

'AIR in Asia' joint discussion 'AIR in Asia' joint discussion

If the last session of the meeting was a process of raising awareness of the need for the residency program up to now, and creating and testing the environment accordingly, the following focuses more on the necessary factors needed to create a more effective residency in the future.

The early perception of the residency as a program for realizing specific purposes such as artists' support or creative process has expanded, and now it has grown into a clear independent body so as to operate cultural facilities and festivals. Especially, by providing opportunities to collaborate with other areas of art and local bodies, it has differentiated itself from just simple exchange of 'artworks.' Today, where it is increasingly common to see artworks that revive local attributes being globally circulated, new discoveries and approaches to the regional characteristics through the residency program is attractive to artists and the local people as well. When a resident artist stays in a region, the regional projects that were slow in movement due to the lack of infrastructure can gain momentum, and at the same time, the networks between regions can become more fine-tuned as the traveling artist becomes the medium of the network. In addition, the artists can escaped their shepherded lives and become exposed to the reality of survival in the world, which leads to valuable experiences and opportunities to make new relationships. Moreover, the experience of running residency programs in regional areas can contribute to policy proposals for cultural art policies of the region.

A cultural art critic in Britain, Kelly Carmichael, who often gets mentioned with the topic of artists' residency, sheds light on 'how to approach the next step' in residency through his writing. He says the residency program should be exemplified by such notions as "how ‘space’ can become ‘place’ when given connection, context and meaning." I think what he mentions can be understood as the success of the international artists' residency programs depends on the programs that can support or consider the idea of 'translating alien context.' This meeting was an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of going beyond mere copying of residency programs by searching for referential cases, but to create more specific goals according to unique characteristics of the corresponding space and region, and configure a differentiated program through such efforts.

A residency program is the most in-depth opportunity for a person to travel in order to meet other people, and contemplate about what can be done for the people. The diversity and dynamism in adapting, challenging, discovering, and sharing such relationship-oriented processes is the moving force of the residency program. Residency program is still evolving.


| Performing Arts AIR Meeting  Go
| Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama 2012  Go 


Soung Hyo RYU _ Representative of Indie Space AGIT

As he was majoring in art, he entered the cultural scene through project-exhibition planning. During his work, he met several independent cultural planners and joined as one of the founding members of the alternative-acting Funny Revenge in 2003. Since then, except for one year stay abroad, he has been active as the administrator of Funny Revenge and Indie Space AGIT. He is currently working on international networking centering around subcultures.

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