Avigail Talmor, an artist and painter from Israel, was invited to spend a month long residency at Da Wang Culture Highland in Shenzhen. This residency opportunity arose from a collaboration between Residency Unlimited, Da Wang, and China Residencies to offer a residency in China as part of RU's annual fundraising raffle.
Avigail's work is concerned with the relations between the institutionalized and private, personal and public spaces. Her painting series of Checkpoints observe the non places that exist in our architectural surroundings, exploring the contradiction between security and threat.
Avigail describes her time on residency at Da Wang:
The Da Wang residency is a raw yet unforgettable adventure. It's surrounded with an amazing view, the facilities are very basic but comfortable. There is a lovely gallery space for exhibitions and a very nice lounge area with a projector and a big screen where the artist talks take place. The studios are in great sizes, they are very well light and are five minutes walk from the main building. The studio space is quiet with wide windows. The only sound you hear is birds singing, and the singing of men cycling up the mountain.
The residency is located in twenty minutes ride from two villages where one can actually get anything needed. Supermarkets where you can buy from Nescafé to dried pig's head, telephone shops to recharge your Chinese SIM card and nice restaurants. To be honest, I was very surprised to see how easy and friendly everything is (especially if you have a Chinese speaking person with you.) The distance from downtown Shenzhen's is about an hour ride in the bus, where you can get every brand that crosses your mind and yes, I was even tempted to eat KFC after few weeks of having white rice!
I kept my studio door open while painting as an invitation for curious and bold people step in, watch me paint, and start a conversation. It was a great fun to have these little chats and interactions. The most amazing encounter was with a bunch of eight and nine year old children from the school right near my studio. They practiced their Kong Fu lessons on my doorstep everyday, so one day I invited them all to paint with me. They were so happy for the offer, and we painting and laughed together. I hung all their works on my studio wall as a little exhibition at the end of the day.
I gave an artist talk that went went very well and lead a very interesting discussion after my presentation. People came from around the area and were very curious to hear about my work and hear about my personal experiences in China and Israel. After the artist talk, I opened my studio for people to have a glimpse of my work in progress.
During my stay I managed to take pictures of many new Checkpoints, a principal theme in my work, and donated a new painting from this series to be a part of the Da Wang art collection. I expanded the research I started in while on residency at RU this summer and took part in a group show. The show is an overview of all the works created at the last 18 months at the Da Wang residency.
In the last two weeks I suggested a collaborative project to Tom and Lesley. Through a few discussions, we realized that there are overlapping themes in our work that were evoked by this visit to Chna. We all explore ideas of the unacknowledged space between two points and evident traces of time, and for this project it seems that ideas of the past can be redefined into ideologies of the present. We really pushed the limits to work with the short amount of time we had, but unfortunately the deadline was too tight. Although we could not complete the project on the spot, we have a written proposal which we will be happy to try to bring to life. In short, our idea is to collect the entrance door mats from the residents of Shenzhen and hopefully from Hong Kong to create a large scale site-specific floor installation and an interactive platform that contains data about the people who donated the door mats. We are still hoping to try and find funding for this project and make it happen as soon as possible.