Campus Artist in Residence, Tsukuba, Japan

Catalogue introduction for CAIR 2020, University of Tsukuba

12th Feb-1st March 2020

Sharing Artists

What is an artist-in-residence programme?

An artist-in-residence programme is an opportunity to invite artists, academics, researchers, curators and other related creative individuals for a time and space away from their usual environments and work obligations. This moment provides a time for reflection, research, making discussion, and presentation. It should allow an individual opportunity to explore his/her practice within another community; a chance to meet new people, perhaps use new materials/techniques and to experience life in a new location. Artist-in-residencies are important because they provide opportunities for artists from around (Lehman, 2017; Corbett, 2015) the world to spend time in a new atmosphere and environment. They support cultural and artistic exchange, nurture experimentation and new ideas, and support research and the development of new work.

Artist residencies have a long history, some suggesting they started firstly as communities to encourage creative people to settle. Often quoted as an example is the artist community in the German town of Worpswede (Lehman, 2017; Corbett, 2015) which was established as an artist colony in the 1880’s. Other examples exists’, for instance the Corporation of Yaddo founded in 1900 in the state of New York. From these early days’ artist residencies have become an accepted part of the art, education and cultural landscape, and crucially an important part of any professional artists career development. They can exist in museums, universities, galleries, community spaces, government offices, theatres, studio spaces, artist run spaces, festivals, and also in business and industry contexts. These opportunities now exist in hundreds of locations across the world, in urban and rural communities and sometimes in very remote locations. I think it would be fair to say that no one model exists and the expectations and requirements are quite bespoke and vary greatly.

What was CAIR 2020’s purpose?

It’s easy to see why an artist would want to take part in a residency, it offers funding, studio facilities, materials, travel and accommodation but what is in it for University of Tsukuba? The focus on this years’ CAIR came from the student’s reflections and discussions on what they felt the purpose should be for their learning. The student co-ordination team and Director identified the theme as being ‘Interaction’; a chance to communicate and actively work alongside each other, as this was something that was generally felt lacking in previous experiences for the Tsukuba students. My role as an external advisor was easy in many ways, I devised a programme that empowered the participants and generated moments for dialogue and sharing. The focus seemed obvious, to generate a community of practice (Wenger), based around art making, where the student participants (artist, curators and spectators) would be a part of a culturally enriching environment in a collaborative space. The studio practice would expose the participants to perhaps new international ideas and perspectives and develop awareness, knowledge and understanding within the groups. It was also hoped that an intersection between, artist, curator and teaching staff could be generated.

How was this achieved?

At the core of the process it was decided that a ‘buddy system’ be installed;

international and local Japanese artist were paired and a curator allocated to the pair to support. Four groups of buddies were established and they worked together in a constant dialogue, before, during and after the residency. The programme was structured around a series of whole group/individual crits; video diary reflections; a visit to the Tokyo National Museum; gallery presentations and finally a group evaluation presentation.

The catalogue (to be published end of March) is testament to the success of the CAIR 2020 and its ambition to generate an international student artist ‘interaction’. You can see from the content the range and diverse learning that took place through constant dialogue and sharing.

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Andy Ash