A new residency just opened up in Dongguan, the city between Guangzhou and Shenzhen with a lot of history. Yan Garden, where the artist residency is located, is built around one of the oldest guesthouses of the city. Xiaoyao Xu caught up with Faith Yan via e-mail in May before visiting the residency in person on her second research trip.
CR: Hi, and welcome to China Residencies! Your artist residency at Yan Garden, called Young Yan Artists Program just opened this year, is that correct? Can you tell us why you decided to open an artist place in Dongguan?
Faith Yan: Yes, this is our first open-call residence program in Yan Garden and even the first artist residency in Dongguan. We are concerned about the young artists and hope to provide them with a new platform and chances to work on what they want.
CR: So what is the relationship between the Young Yan Artists Residence and Yan Concept?
FY: Yan Concept is the organizer of the residence program and Yan Garden is one of the project under Yan Concept. The program takes place in Yan Garden with working studios and living space.
CR: What is your role in the residency? How did you get involved? What is your responsibility for the artist's residence?
FY: We are fully responsible for the program from launching, initial preparatory work to implementation, and also the working capital.
The former guesthouse turned working studios.
CR: Can tell us some information about yourself and your background?
FY: Yan Garden is a revitalized project which you can find many stories here. This place was first a university and then a sino-foreign joint venture called Yanling Guesthouse. The working studios for this program are located in the renovated Yanling Guesthouse. Yan Garden is an artistic experimentation space where we can organize art exhibitions and sharing forums in order to provide to creative young artists a place to showcase their talents, share ideas and interact with each other.
CR: Can you talk about the facilities available at the artist's site? For example, where is the studio of the resident artist?
FY: Independent working studios and accommodation will be arranged to the artists in residence. They can also enjoy the facilities in Yan Garden which include a multi-functional room, meeting room, 2 exhibition halls and cafe. Also, we have office equipments such as printer or projector upon request.
The (future) artists' residence and the surroundings with some animal friends at Yan Garden residency (photo by Xiaoyao Xu).
CR: What are your requirements of experience for the artists who are applying?
FY: We have a rather clear requirement to the artists’ age and their specialization. Applicants aging from 18-35 whose interest and specialization in modern arts are welcomed to apply, no matter whether you are current students, a fresh graduate, full-time artist, curator, creative or art researcher. We hope that our applicants come with an original approach design and research.
CR: What does the place of residence provide? What should the artist arrange for himself?
FY: We offer the artists working studios, accommodation and subsidy not exceeding RMB 20,000, and also guidance from our professional consultancy team, site visiting, assistance and coordination during the creative process. Artists are responsible for the visa fee, insurance fee, and any other fee and expenses created during the program. Personal laptop and materials needed for art creation have to be prepared by artists themselves.
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?
FY: Instead of requiring artists to leave us their final products, we require them to have a presentation showing their final process or product before the end of the residence period. The exhibition format will be proposed by the artists or arranged by the organizer which different genres of art could be presented in different ways. Other than that, the artists have to choose one day as an open day to hold a talk or a workshop or any other interactive session with the local community and residents. We hope that the artist can have an opportunity to interact with the surrounding community in the local area where the residency is located.
CR: How do you make sure your open call and the residency program can reach local and international artists?
FY: Having a residence program in Dongguan is already an attraction since there is no any continuous open-call residence program here. We hope that the Young Yan Artists Residence Program can offer a chance for artists in Dongguan and even in Greater Bay Area in China.
An old photo of the guesthouse.
CR: How many on staff are you at Yan Garden residency?
FY: There are 6 members in the organizing committee with the backup from other departments.
CR: Can you tell us how you plan to connect artists to local creative scenes?
FY: We will arrange interactive activities such as site visits, open day and sharing for artists to learn more about local culture and environment. Participated artists get the initiative to decide a deeper understanding and interaction depending on their production process. We will try our best to assist them.
CR: What opportunities do you have to offer artists to share their work with the public?
FY: The artists can share their experience and art pieces in open day and exhibition, or interact with the visitors who come to Yan Garden.
CR: Do you help artists in residence sell their work?
FY: We will consider to collect the artists’ products or their concepts to produce a final work if the final art piece or idea we think is aligned with Yan Garden.
CR: Is there anything else you'd like to add about the program, your mission, or the opportunities you provide for artists?
FY: There is a possibility to have a solo exhibition or further collaboration for outstanding artists.
The exhibition space, one of the many spaces available for the artist.
CR: You also said that the artist must complete a seminar or open day at the place of residence. What formats or structures have you been considering?
FY: The content and format of the open day will be initiated by the artists and we will coordinate the details and logistics with them.