Sweden

ON-AiR Workshop in Göteborg

Introduction

-Host organizations On Air: Konstepidemin and City Council Göteborg

-Focus: mid-career artists

-Number of participants: 30

-Location: Konstepidemin

- date: 28th of October 2010

 

Download the regional information on AiR and mobility opportunities in Sweden, collected by Konstepidemin.

 

Workshop report

With this workshop we could compare and reflect on the different experiences and problems that Swedish artists encounter; to modify and adapt the structure of the workshop according to their needs and the information that were presented to us beforehand. The focus area of this workshop was different compared to the other workshops, primarily because the participants were midcareer artists. Almost all of them have been in a residency and we could go more into detail about how to take most of what the residency can offer; how to organize and focus on the project after the residency and similar practical issues.

Our two day visit consisted of an educational workshop and several visits and meetings with local experts and guest artists.

Day  1: Konstepidemin

Konstepidemin (The Epidemic of Art) is a non-profit organization providing studio facilities for over a hundred professional artists in more than 4000 square meters of total studio area. It is situated in the centre of Göteborg and consists of ten buildings and a large park. They are members of Res Artis network, Trans Europe Halles and they cooperate with IASPIS and PEJA.

Background

Konstepidemin was founded in 1987, mainly for three reasons:

1.      In the 1970s and 80s there was a shortage of cheap premises in the central parts of Göteborg, as many areas in the city were due for renovation and rebuilding. It was almost impossible for artists to find somewhere to work.

2.     The second reason was the ambition to build a cultural centre where different types of artists could work close by and thus be able to inspire each other, exchange experiences and find new ways of working together.

3.     The third and perhaps most important reason was that the Epidemic of Art could become a pressure group for the arts towards those in political and economical power. The former hospital for epidemic diseases was “discovered” by some Gothenburg artists in 1983. It seemed obvious for them to try to get permission to use the buildings in the area. Gradually the idea was sanctioned both by the local government and by the state authorities. The first studio was let out in 1987, and the artists started to reorganize the area in order to meet their own needs

Present day

The former Epidemic Hospital houses sculptors, actors, writers, textile artists, designers, dancers, musicians, jewelry and ceramic artists, painters, performance artists, print makers, poets, filmmakers and others. Apart from the studios they also have galleries that show around 30 exhibitions every year, while five guest studios provide workspace for mainly international artists.

The Epidemic of Art is run by an independent group of artists and is basically self-financed. The main income comes from letting out the studios to the artists. Some of the projects are also financially supported by the city of Goteborg and the government, from sponsors and other funds.

“If you fall in love you don’t ask yourself why”

Marcello D´Angelo is an Italian artist currently in residence in Konstepidemin. He works with large scale sculptures and arrived at the residency with an idea and a plan for production:

“You’ll often find me looking for materials in Göteborg’s building yards and industrial areas.

I’ll translate in a sculpture the exchange and connections among people and different cultures. I’ll work on space and life sharing – how we exchange feelings and throw visible and invisible walls between each other.”

Marcello was in a residence in Konstepidemin in 2009, and he really appreciated the time he spent there and the work he produced, so he decided to come again. When we asked him why is he back in the residency, his reply was simple: – “If you fall in love you don’t ask yourself why”.

Day 2: The On-AiR Workshop

- Artists/Guest Speakers: Magnus Larsson, Zsuzsanna Gilice, Carina Fihn, Marcello D´Angelo

-Regional correspondents/experts: Mona Wallström (jewelry designer/curator), Cecilia Borgström-Fälth (City Council), Maria Lundberg (Konstepidemin)

Introduction

Most of the artists present at the workshop have their studios in Konstepidemin.

It was a group of midcareer artists, most of who have been in many residencies, traveled a lot and have experience working not only as artists, but teachers, curators etc.

This workshop was structured in a way that was aiming at sharing experiences among the participants and discussing questions that are specific for certain models of residencies.

Mona Wallström is a jewelry designer and co-organizer of Hnoss gallery. She was the moderator of the workshop. One of her memorable experience was being an artist in residence at a local governmental housing company in a multicultural suburb Hammarkullen in Göteborg for 10 months. This was a special program which commission is to work for cultural participation in the working life.

Magnus Larsson and Zsuzsanna Gilice presented the project they realized in a residency in Grez-sur-Loing, France.

Grez-sur-Loing is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in north-central France. It is located 70 km south of Paris and is notable for the artists and musicians who have lived and stayed there.

Magnus and Zsuzsanna were there for one month, together with their children. They both agreed that this was valuable opportunity for their work, and they felt very comfortable because of the possibility to bring their children with them. In their words: “Sometimes we had the feeling that the children are doing more work than us”.

Being in a residence affected their work in a visible way, especially for Zsuzsanna, who normally works with drawings, totally covered with pencil. What changed in the residency is that she started taking photography’s and afterwards making the drawings, taking the abstract forms in the photography as a starting point.

The problem that she and her husband encountered after the residence was finding the time to organize all the material they made in France and finish the projects they started there.

Carina Fihn has been in a few residencies: in Lofoten, Norway; in Tallinn Estonia (these residencies are specifically for Nordic artists), travel grant in New York etc. The travels and going in residencies became an important part of her work, because as she said, her work is all about telling a story:

“Maybe not a story in the traditional meaning. With a beginning and an end. More a try to make sense of the everyday life that surrounds me and of issues that are universal. It’s an ongoing investigation.”

She gets inspired by the surrounding, normally goes to the residencies without any expectations and starts working from there. She said that she tries to finish her projects while in the residency, and in that way avoid the frustration that can come afterwards.

Conclusion

The workshop was positive and challenging, both for us and the participants. We had the chance to meet artists who have done a lot and have a long career, and it was interesting to see their perspective on residencies and what they find important.

 

1. Specific situation in Konstepidemin with midcareer artists; there was already a lot of knowledge and interest in very specific topics, such as:

-         How to find the time to go in a residence, having in mind the everyday obligations apart from the artistic practice,  and the family.

-         Ideas: organizing your priorities,  choosing a residence for a shorter period of time, choosing a residence where you can take your partner and children

-         How to organize oneself after the residency and to try and keep up with the tempo of work one had in a residency

 

2. As with the other workshops there is always one or few artists who want to start their own residency, in this group, Johanna Wallin is starting a residency close by Goteborg, in the nature.

 

3. Funding possibilities for Swedish artists: – Iaspis was founded in 1996 as the Swedish Visual Arts Fund’s international programme commissioned to support international exchange for practitioners in the areas of visual art, design, craft and architecture. Iaspis’ activities aim to enable practitioners based in Sweden to develop artistically and improve their working conditions by establishing international contacts between artists and institutions, professionals such as curators and critics and others active in the field.

 

4. There is a tendency of artists going in the same residencies (for ex. most of the participants have been or have heard about the residence in Grez sur Loing, where mostly Finnish and Swedish artists go). This workshop was helpful for them in terms of broadening the idea about residencies and different models, and about being creative in looking for and choosing a residency.

 

Useful links:

Mona Wallström

Magnus Larsson

Zsuzsanna Gilice

Carina Fihn