We've talked to Chen Wei, the co-founder and director of C-Platform, to find out more about the newly opened residency program Lucitopia. Lucitopia is co-curated by the research and art platform C-PLATFORM and MEXDIA Lab and is supported by the Green Art Lab Alliance (EU) and China Residencies. 

China Residencies: How and when did the art residency start? 

Chen Wei: Lucitopia Residency Program starts with the idea of thinking about the question around “how to respond creatively to sustainability?” It will explore the possibilities and relationships among nature, culture, and society. The ideal status of the residency program is supposed to be like this: participants live, share and create together during their period in residence, getting to know each other and building a close relationship with the environment which is already located in a specific context, meanwhile carrying out cross-cultural, ideological and academic interactions, innovations, and encounters. We started preparing the residency program in 2018 and officially will launch the program in 2019.

CR: What is your role in the residency? How did you get involved?

CW: I worked as a project director on this program. In the past 6 years, we run a culture & art research institution called C-PLATFORM which supported by Xiamen Lucitopia Culture Co. ltd which is located in Xiamen, China. The organization focusses on current trends and future concepts in the realm of mixed media. In addition to periodical research subjects and issues, it has conducted a series of explorations and related practices. This has been achieved by launching and curating comprehensive research projects and activities which are inter-disciplinary, inter-media and inter-sensory. We always thought of initiating a unique residency program which is not only open for artists but also people who work in different fields.  We want to create a climate for participants to share their own knowledge and to exchange ideas, to achieve the collision of thoughts.

CR: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

CW: I look at myself as an independent researcher in visual culture, but I also worked as a curator, artist, and lecturer. At the meantime, I am the Co-Founder & Director of C-PLATFORM, Appointed Guest Curator of Guangdong Museum of Art, and member of the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, UK. My research focuses on Multimedia Art, Communication Design, and Curatorial Practice and also active in international culture and art exchange. In recent years, I have conducted practical research and a series of explorations focusing on the issue of art intervention in the public realm.

CR: How did you decide on the location of the residency?

CW: The Lucitopia Residency Program will take place within the context of a range of urban environments, rural areas and other geographical localities. By focusing on the characteristics of specific areas with particular and varied issues, more diverse thought processes and explorations of varying perspectives will be carried out.

CR: How many people are on staff running the residency?

CW: Currently, our whole team has 20 staff in the office for different kind of projects; we have 2 colleagues who are response to mainly follow up on the presidency program. 

CR: Can you talk about the facilities on site available to the artists? Where are the studios for artists in residence?

CW: We have photocopier, laser engraving and 3D printing facilities, we will also prepare some basic art supplies such as paper, pencils, oil painting materials, but it really depends on the applicants and the research subjects. We will prepare some of the basic materials from our own budget. The studios are located in Creative Centre, Lucitopia Town, Zhuxi Tree Farm, Zixi County, and Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province.

CR: Can you specify the support you provide: eg. how much in advance need the offer transportation services be requested?

CW: We have included all the supports that we will provide on the open call page:

• Based on each applicant’s specific residency plan, we will provide residency funding ranging from RMB 2,000 to 20,000.

• Open-air venue for creation in either the natural environment or in the village; an indoor shared studio of about 100㎡ (equipped with internet, photocopier, laser engraving and 3D printing facilities).

• Offer of service for organizing and coordinating project activities during the residency, limited edition poster design, social media release and publicity.

• Offer of Chinese-English translations related to the creation and daily activities during the residency.

• We will offer transportation services within the residency area during the residency.

• We will offer maximum five days of hotel accommodation and reception in the city: Staff will assist international participants during transfer in Xiamen for two of these days before the village residency (domestic participants travel directly to the village without transfer). The remaining three days of accommodation will be arranged so that all residency participants can share their residency experiences in Xiamen and other cities.

CR: What are the follow-up documents needed for the application process or does it depend on each applicant individually? 

CW: In the first stage, each application needs to provide their resent Chinese/English resume, portfolio and the program application form (you can download from our website). Once we have processed the application materials, we will contact applicants individually for further information depending on their application materials.

CR: Can you state the exact equipment of each living facility at Lucitopia Inn?  

CW: Lucitopia Inn. is a portable design hotel surrounded by nature, each room is fully equipped. The standard room for the program is approximately 15㎡ with single or double beds. We do have other room options but will require an extra charge. The convenient store is not far, and also the dining room and bar, are only a few minutes’ walk from Lucitopia Inn. We will keep completing the Lucitopia town in the future, so there are way more exciting things to expect.

CR: How do you decide on the amount of each residency funding? 

CW: It really depends, like their proposals to our program which is significant, their general costs to support their basic needs, and what they could bring to this area after the program. We have our professional experts committee to evaluate how much stipends we are going to provide for the participants.

CR: What are the opportunities available for visiting artists to share their work with the public? 

CW: At the ending parts of the residency program, the artists will need to present their works to the public as an exhibition to the locals, and interactive with them. We also offer all types of workshops. If participants are interested, they can always join the program. Also, at the end of the rural residency, participants have the opportunity to be invited to give lectures in urban public locations, such as community spaces, universities, research institutes and creativity conferences. They will be able to share their thoughts and experiences of their time in the countryside as well as their visions for future potential, and in so doing will encourage feedback, inspire wider urban debate, and focus on rural practices.

CR: What range of experience are you looking for in potential artists in residence?

CW: We are not only looking for artists to join this program, but this residency program also invites interdisciplinary and cross-media practitioners. Participants will study and explore through investigation, practice, presentation and sharing from the perspective of interdisciplinary research, tracing the possibility of integrating ecology, science and technology in the human context. They will be able to fully explore the potential value of the region from a multi-layered perspective, discussing new ideas and opportunities in sustainable rural and ecological development.

CR: Do the artists leave work once the residency is done? What are some of the must do’s for the artists as part of the residency agreement?

CW: We always encourage participants to leave their works for the program; they can always have further communication with other participants and visitors through their works. Also, after the participants come and join the program, we hope whenever they presented the residency outcome they can refer to the Lucitopia Residency.

CR: Do you help artists in residence sell their work?

CW: Currently, we have not involved in art marketing business, but if artists have any special requirements, we are more than happy to help.

This interview was conducted by Xiaoyao Xu via e-mail for China Residencies in January 2019. All images courtesy of C-Platform / Gerard Wielenga.