China Residencies invited residency directors from Hong Kong and mainland China to talk about “Cultural Residencies in China” as part of Asia Art Archive’s Open Platform series at Art Basel Hong Kong on March 17th.

Below is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation between residency organizers Antonie Angerer (I: project space), Thea Baumann (Metaverse Makeovers), Jay Brown (Lijiang Studio), Mimi Brown (Spring Workshop), Ingrid Chu (Asia Art Archive), Emma Karasz (Red Gate Residency), Christina Li (Spring Workshop), Kira Simon-Kennedy (China Residencies), Brian Wallace (Red Gate Gallery), Chantal Wong (Asia Art Archive); artist Michael Leung (Hong Kong Farm) and more.

Kira Simon-Kennedy: Hi everyone, thanks for coming. I’m Kira of China Residencies, and we have here a whole bunch of amazing artist residency directors and research residency directors and technology research directors from all over China and the mainland and I’m going to really quickly just say what we do.  Were just a website of all the artists residencies that we know of that are real and that are worth going to in China. And so we research them, we do interviews with residency directors and the artists who’ve been. I’m going to give some quick intros starting with Brian and Emma who are here. Brian started Red Gate Gallery some 20 years ago--

Brian Wallace: 24

Kira: 24 years ago, wow! – and Emma now runs the residency there. I am starting with them because I was their intern once upon a time and that’s how I met Crystal, who used to be the residency director there and together we decided that we should just start a website, because too many people didn’t know what programs were out in China beyond Red Gate and too many artists were emailing us saying how do I get to China, how do I get a visa, what’s worth going to, how does it happen... And we would sent these long emails and then realised that it should just be public information. So we started this about 2 years ago doing research. Crystal passed away over the summer which is awful, but we’re continuing this in her memory and just to let people know what’s going on. So Brian Wallace and Emma Karasz are Red Gate Residency which has around twelve artists at a time of all kinds from all over and they’re really fantastic. Jay Brown runs Lijiang studio residency on a farm, outside of Lijiang in a little village, and there pig just had some piglets, and that’s the quick story there. Christina Li runs Spring Workshop, started by Mimi who is right here taking pictures {laughter}, and they are a really cool non-profit space that right now has a farmer in residency, Michael Leung of Hong Kong Farm, and two artists who here here a minute ago, Wu Tsang and Boychild. Thea runs a virtual residency -- it’s a long story to explain but these nails that she is wearing work like QR codes that you can scan with your phone, that will create virtual bling on your phone, and artists can be residents in the nails, in the app! {laughter} It all makes sense, she can demo everything later. And Ingrid runs the research residency that is part of the public programs at Asia Art Archive, who we thank for this beautiful booth and for organizing all these amazing talks. The reason that I am doing the intros for people is that I don’t want everyone to spend all the time talking about themselves, but rather about what they are actually doing. Oh, and I’m sorry -- Antonie who is here from I: project space in Beijing; a really new residency that has just had 2 or 3 projects and they do really cool collaborations with artists in Beijing and artists from so far Germany, and Switzerland, and they are the youngest residency here, I think. And so now I am going to pass this all to you guys to tell me about the most interesting project you have hosted on the last year. Anyone want to start?

Ingrid Chu: Hi everyone, I am Ingrid Chu from Asia Art Archive, I’m public programs curator. As Kira said, we have a residency program among our many program at the Archive, and what we have been thinking about this year is that there are all quite different. Some of them last a week, some of them last a year, and I guess maybe the most recent is the most exciting for you. So Marysia Lewandowska, who some of you have met, she has participated in several of these Open Platforms, we did a year long program with her to develop several workshops, both in Hong Kong at AAA – one will happen elsewhere in Hong Kong and the third will be in collaboration with the Taipei Contemporary Art Centre. It is called Property, Protest, Commons, and the Alternative Economies of Art which is a workshop series.

Thea Baumann: Hello, my name is Thea Baumann and I’m the founder of a technology startup company led by artists. We actually create a new type of wearable technology products in the form of these nails, that when you scan the nails with our app MM Nails, it then triggers virtual artworks that can be shared on real time via social networks. So I’m going to just demo it really quickly and then you’ll know what I’m talking about. So when I scan the nails I’m wearing, these virtual sculptures appear on my phone. They are all designed by resident digital artists. And then you can take a photo of that and share that photo to Wechat or elsewhere. So we work with a lot of cult Australian and Chinese internet artists to create localized content, and I call them in-app artists: in-app residency artists and on-nails artists. We also create unique patterns and digital graphic designs on the nails, so it’s a new collectable, wearable artistic platform that you can share. So that’s…what we do!

Kira: I’m going to pause this really quickly, what was the coolest residency project you’ve been involved with, specifically? If you can just talk about what one artist did, specifically in the last year, that was really cool. It can be anything but the idea is really  - not so much generally what you’re about, but one specific example of something that happened in your residency.

Christina Li: This is so hard, to find one thing that happened… because Spring does so many interesting things. I really love all the projects at Spring. Maybe, if I have to choose one, that I have not been involved in, would be Hong Kong Farm! One of the Hong Kong farm guys, Michael, is right here too. Since last August, Spring has been hosting Hong Kong farm. It’s a one year residency on our terrace. So they are urban farmers, try to introduce people into the idea of growing your own food and also just creating awareness. So Spring Workshop is not only a residency space, we don’t only work with contemporary art, we also do contemporary culture. So we are very aware of everything, different kinds of cultural manifestations. And since last August we have had planters at Spring. So we are growing  own mint, and all these other fantastic vegetables. And we also have a Talk to your Plants recording and a plant selfie both, so if you guys are still in Hong Kong, please come by and just hang out and sing secret songs to plants because we play it to all the plants in the planters, and we have also started a really interesting compost installation. And what Spring also does is make visible the process of our work and also that of different artists that we work with. In this specific case with Hong Kong farm we have also have autumn harvest workshops and we also invite children and anyone who is interested in teaching a class with the planters and so in a way its also trying to communicate what were doing and not make this something really insular and secret, so were very  interested in opening up processes. And at the end of the residency this year we are planning a series of other events, so please keep yourself posted if you are around.

Emma Karasz: So, I guess the the most exciting thing we did recently is that we started a residency in honor of Crystal Ruth Bell. For Red Gate we get a lot of applications; the majority are from artists from the western world, and the ones who aren’t usually can’t find funding in their home countries. Anyway, so we launched this open call, and together with China Residencies we were able to fund a three months winter residency for an artist. Kira and I got 250 applications from all over the world, and we talked for many hours over Skype and had reviewed loads of really interesting projects. And in the end, we chose an artist from India who ended being really great, and it really made me realize how important it is to be able to work with artists from other developing countries in China and beginning that dialogue. Jagrut Raval is an extremely socially conscious artist from India. He had a few exhibitions while he was at Red Gate, which isn’t always something that artists have a chance to do, but he was quite ambitious. His main exhibition was a world map made out of food, and we talked a lot about what kind of food he would work. He ended up finding  a local Indian restaurant in Beijing to make Biryani. And he invited the workers in the village the Red Gate residency studios are is in which is this migrant worker village, and he invited other residents and other workers from the village. We had a camera above us filming this whole world map made out of Biryani rice, and then he showed that as a projection on the ground as it was deteriorating. It was a really exciting project.

Antonie Angerer: I guess for us the most exciting thing is we opened up our space last year, so that’s a special project for us. I: project space has two parts, so it’s a residency and also a non-profit exhibition space. This is very important to us; we work with local artists and give them space. Of course our wish is to get these two parts to be very much interconnected; so that’s what we were most excited about last year when we had our exhibition with three Chinese art collectives. There was this one collective who actually did another residency program called Apartment of Dreams Come True where two Chinese artists organized this residency program outside of the 5th ring road; it was in a migrant worker community, inviting eleven artists to stay there, each for one week. Then over a holiday week, they invited seven artists to stay for one day, and our artist-in-residence at the time Michel Broderman who came from Switzerland had the chance to be in that program. I really like this interaction with the artist we work with on the exhibition side and the resident artists. The work they created in that day was a video, which was also shown in our exhibition space later. I think for us, that was really beautiful that the residency artists are also a part of our space and creating the space with us during their time. It’s a project-based residency program, so it’s just really beautiful that everything linked and it’s great that everything came together so nicely.

Jay Brown: I’ll talk about a project that has no evidence online, a video artist named Ma Yanyu who’s from Beijing who had worked at our studio and he chose to remake a Chinese film made in 50s and released in the 70s, called Bian Zai Feng Huo it’s a propaganda film showing how the KMT would run across the Yunnan border to Myanmar and tried to sabotage the Chinese communist government. There was a very famous actress at the time playing the lead role, quite a spectacular film, shot in a kind of Hollywood style, and he had the idea to remake this film somewhere in Yunnan, maybe where it had been shot. And he ended up deciding to remake it with everyone around, so our neighbors were all actors in the film, and we literally re-made the film shot by shot. We had a laptop with the original playing, we shot on 16mm and we also set up a digital shoot to document the project. And so in the process we had acting workshops, auditions, and the shoot took about three months. It was one of the most interesting experiences we had. And our neighbors are all movie stars now! There’s a guitar player, Li Jianhong in Beijing, an amazing improvisation artist, and he came to the studio to do the sound for the movie. And we’re in the editing process now, figuring how the music and film will work together.

Kira: There are also a few people in the audience who are very involved with these (and other) residencies, so if any of you would like to chime in about a project you’ve worked on that hasn’t been mentioned yet, please feel free to speak up. Thea, would you like to talk about a particular in-app resident? Ingrid, are there any other specific research projects you’d like to talk about? And next, I’d like to ask you all what you hope to achieve by inviting people to come into your space and giving artists time to work on a project. What’s the ideal end goal of the collective sum of these residencies?

Ingrid: I think, to answer your first question, I only moved to Hong Kong fairly recently, I don’t have the background of the past residencies, but I mentioned Marysia because I’ve been working directly with her for an extended period time. Artist approach the residencies based on their own practices, for me, trying to find the best platforms to help in the best way we can, with research, or studies, or meeting people, is there something about the area they don’t know -- it’s really about facilitating their project. And that changes every time. That’s our biggest challenge but it’s so important, from the archival process, thinking about what you can do now to facilitate work that will last for a long time and become meaningful in the future.

Brian: I think for Red Gate the most important thing is really space and time. The second most important thing is building connections with other artists.

Emma: Creating a community and lasting relationships with a place that hopefully they’ll want to come back to, and help begin a lifelong exchange, we’re just the beginning of their engagement with China.

Antonie: I totally agree, building this kind of network and building connections is the reason why you do something like a residency. I also think it’s nice to finally meet some other residency programs and connect with you all, because the bigger it gets, the better. I think it’s really important in such a globalized field to also make local ties.

Christina: Well, Spring is actually a five year program. Spring really wants to experiment and see how a residency and an institution can support Hong Kong’s existing art economy. So in the beginning, Mimi established Spring to provide support for other spaces, our partners like AAA, Para/Site, to create that space and time to host their guest, because space is very limited in Hong Kong and there are often budget constraints stopping long term engagement. So that’s one very important aspect of what Spring aspires to do. The second aspect is trying to experiment with how one could present art and communicate what art is by opening up that process to the public, so we’re really interested with having long term residencies, for example right now we have Wu Tsang who is undertaking a two part research residency which will culminate in a presentation next year around this time. So we are really not under pressure to create fast projects, we are really interesting in exploring how we can produce time and space in a time when things are very market-oriented. We don’t have that pressure and I think that’s what we can offer to our residents and our partner organizations.

Kira: How long is long-term?

Christina: Last year, we did a year long book project with a curator and an editor. We also worked on a two-year project called Moderations, it’s also an experiment on how a project could unfold over several years.  

Ingrid: I wanted to quickly add, that to differentiate the fact that we have residents, but we do not really have the facilities to host them. So we have always partnered with organizations and friends. It’s sort of our dialogue with them too, shaping how we can support different projects with our friends and family.

Chantal Wong: I was taking care of some of the residents at AAA before Ingrid came along, so I thought I’d frame it a little from my time there. I think the core of the organization is also to activate the collection and to see how far you can experiment with the idea of the collection and the archive. One on hand, we’re dealing with history and the data that’s gathered, but on the other hand, we’re trying to deal with the digital, some of the fundamental questions, philosophies, and ideologies of the organization. One is Asia, we build an alternative atlas of Asia based on the projects we find in the collection, so I think it’s activating the limits of the collection but also engaging in a kind of institutional critique, doing internal workshops and challenging fundamentally who we are as an institution and what we’re about.

Thea: My perspective on what a in-app residency could be, by shoving artists inside an app {laughs} and seeing how they interpret that as a new exhibition space, but also how you could wear artworks, and how could users become a potential platform for your content is something else that I’m interesting in. We work with a lot of Chinese artists and we work with a lot of Australian artists, so the long term vision of what that could be, I really view that as an exchange of content between these two “new worlds” and some of the outcomes that are coming out of this very new residency is watching how artists in Australia can infiltrate the Great Firewall and use some of our end-users as a way to distribute their digital, virtual artworks, and vice-versa, how can artists from within China that work with digital mediums use our international end-users as a way to promote their artworks. So there are these new ways of exhibiting and gaining an audience and also distributing your media that is springing out of this in-app and on-nail residency.

Kira: Jumping off what you were saying about crossing the Firewall. First of all I need to apologize for the lack of diversity on behalf of the mainland participants, a lot of people couldn’t make it because we had very short-term notice about this event and so they couldn’t get visas in time, so we don’t have anyone with Chinese passport here to talk about the mainland China side of things. One of the biggest problems is mobility, and figuring out how we can help Chinese artists travel and how international artists can get to China, and I wanted to ask an open question about what axis your residencies are oriented towards: Western-Eastern exchange, is it totally international, or is it more regional in Asia or even just between Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland. There are representatives from Bamboo Curtain in Taiwan, who held a residency exchange with 1A Space here in Hong Kong, but there are very little opportunities for artists to travel along unconventional paths. And that’s something that Emma touched on too, we’d really love to see more exchange between India, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle-East, artists from there often don’t get the chance to come to have any kind of interface with China. How do you all approach this issue?

Jay: Yeah, I thought that was really important, especially for us because we’re in Yunnan which overlaps with border regions, it’s absolutely something we need to do but it’s very expensive. It’s strangely harder to get from Indonesia to Yunnan than to get from the States to Yunnan. I end up for applying for resource grants to go talk to artists from relatively close by, since they don’t necessarily know about these opportunities as our websites are usually just in English and Chinese, so we’ve gone to Vietnam several times and to Indonesia to spend time with the artist communities there. It’s still prohibitively expensive. Maybe someone with funding could aggregate resources for this to happen.

Ingrid: One of the questions I had more specifically for the representatives of programs in China, I was just in a conversation this morning on a panel on the difficulties and logistics of sharing exhibitions and dealing with things coming in and out of the country, and I’m wondering how that shapes access to people and residencies. I think Hong Kong’s situation is a bit easier when it comes to having international residents.

Antonie: Yeah I actually have to say, even though we haven’t been open for a long time. The artists that came, they both had two or three exhibitions projects the second week they were in Beijing, because there are a lot of things going on, a lot of energy and there’s also a lot of space, that’s something that’s very different from Hong Kong. You also have to be careful about that, but exhibition-wise for our artists for us, we have the exhibition space, we don’t pressure to do an exhibitions since that artists are there for a short time, it’s more important to provide space to work or for research-based residencies, but they can also use the exhibition space. Another question is of course, how do you get to China. So I have to say, with all the different visa regulations, it’s been very difficult but so far we’ve made it work.

Kira: You work with artists from only Germany and Switzerland due to funding restrictions?

Antonie: Yes, we’d love to build connections with other Asian countries, of course. Anna and I are both from Germany, so from the funding side it’s easier and it’s also how our space was set up on the European side from the beginning. We’re going to have an exchange with a museum in Vilnius, we’re happy to work with at least at Eastern European country. But i:project space is very much open to the rest of the world.

Mimi Brown: I have to run off in a minute but I wanted to circle back for a moment to an earlier question about what each of of our residencies is hoping to achieve -- by the way, I’m Mimi from Spring Workshop -- you guys touched on so many things that we all share, and a lot of that is artist focused. But one successful thing about our residency is how satisfying the audience part of our residency has been. The more I think about in the the traditional art-enjoyment process for an audience member who’s not an art professional, you only get to see the final artist’s work or maybe go to an artist talk but you have no access to the process as it’s going on, so one of the things that’s been the most rewarding for us is to open our doors to everything that happens before the final work and even encourage the artists to share before we get to the final product. Just thinking of Michael, when on Saturday night we had 850 visitors to his Hong Kong Farm installation, for me to see him engaging with that many audience members and talking about his work was so much more exciting than him having an exhibition of his planters on the terrace, so if I had a magic wand, I would spend tons of time sharing what goes on with the audience about what goes on in the residency. To me, that’s honestly the meat of what goes on in a residency. I don’t know, Michael, how did that feel for you to have an opportunity to engage from the artist’s point of view?

Michael Leung: You always have to situate yourself as an artist. I think the Spring audience is very different to the audience I’m usually surrounded by in Yau Ma Tei and Woofer 10.

Kira: Could you explain what Woofer 10 is?

Michael: Oh yeah, it’s an artspace that also has a residency program for art and activists in residence, so we mostly work with artists who are more activists and anarchists, so yesterday we were working with an artist from Japan, who is actually homeless now in Yamashita park, it’s really nice for me to not be as insular. I kind of only hang around other people who are experiencing the same interest in exploring social issues, like with our farming work. So it’s nice to meet maybe a gallery owner or someone who’s completely disconnected from their food system or the farming ecology here. It’s really nice. One guy named Valentine--

Mimi: Valentine Willie.

Michael: He seems quite eccentric, very expressive, we started talking about food. Apparently, he has a farm in Bali -- oh I mean, I’m sure he does {laughs}-- and he’s got more salads than he can eat or give away, and he told me he takes the salad plants from the farm and into his house as houseplants, and if anyone’s grown salad, you’ll know that in the later stages if you let your salad go to seed, it turns into this hideous plant with a funny flower on a really long stem, and he told me that he likes to have salad as a houseplant in his bathroom. To me, that’s really weird, but once I imagined it, it does kind of make sense, the plant is taking out carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen, it makes sense to put that in your home. I asked him to send me a photograph. And I’m more interested in that than in the artspace he’s opening up in who knows where…

Kira: Then this is a question for the artists here: if you’ve done a residency, how do you feel about the fishbowl experience, would you want to work under the public eye -- there are residency that are almost three-wall residencies, where anyone can stop by anytime, and we’ve heard similar things from artists at the Swatch residency in Shanghai in a very fancy hotel, where sometimes the patrons of the program bring over guests, unannounced, to come watch the artists working, sometimes catching them in their pajamas making breakfast in the kitchen. How do you feel about creating work in public or in a semi-public space? Do any other artists want to speak to that?

{Artist}: I think it depends because when you’re choosing to go on a residency as an artist and you’re very much select a time and place. So if your practice is really up to sharing the private idea of making work, then absolutely, it can be a really good thing. But sometimes the artist be protected, just for thinking and making and residencies are one of those times. It’s difficult. I think if the program expects the artists to share their process, it needs to be very clearly communicated.

Kira: I didn’t mean to put you on the spot, Mimi, because Spring also provides private residencies where artists can come and not talk to anyone.

Mimi: Yes, it’s called our “secret residencies.”

Kira: And like you were saying: transparency is really important, as long as the artists know what they are getting into, it’s up to the residencies to decide which side to be on.

Antonie: I think this metaphor of a fishbowl is really interesting because for me, our concept is that we think of our residency as a way for the artist to get out of their normal context and actually  have this private space just to focus on their artwork for three months, they don’t have to interact socially or speak to their gallerist or collectors, it’s kind of a safe haven to take the time to reflect on their art and the environment. Also, our space is in a little hutong, in the center of Beijing which is not publicly open, and we don’t have an open studio day, it’s really up to the artist to decide if they would like one. We can organize artist talks, or some kind of presentation, otherwise they can be protected in the residency environment.

Christina: Just to add to the secret residency program that we have at Spring, what is so unique about how our relationship with our guests is that we always start by talking in the beginning about what we expect from them, we see these public moments as enriching their process. It’s not to put pressure on them, it’s also for them to develop ways to communicate their work to others, it could be a very small film screening. With Michael, we had this harvest day to teach people and children how to make their own planters. It varies. It’s not a specific format, there’s also exhibitions and performances, so we also communicate a lot with our residents to figure out what their comfort zone. There doesn’t have to be an end product.

Thea: I really want to talk about this thing we call the Hot House. We work with a lot of Australian web developers and artists and I invite over to Shanghai to come up with a specific project. And recently, we invited Chris Petra, he’s running around here somewhere in the show, he’s a visual artist, designer, and developer. I guess our strategy isn’t about creating any kind of pillow of comfort for the artist who come to work with us, we actually throw them in the deep end. {laughs} There’s so much to learn about pushing the frontier and heading into China. The Hot House is a karaoke hotel, we put our artists to live in there and figure out how to get around Shanghai and make art. Really, there’s no illusions. We’re not going to give you a work visa or a business visa. You go under the radar on a tourist visa, we’ll put you in this KTV hotel, go make some art and help us. We don’t really want to collaborate with artists that we have to coddle, because China’s not really the space for that. Toughen up, this is the front line of digital practice. And don’t even expect the internet to work. {laughs} Get a VPN. That’s really our approach.

Kira: I think that’s a great answer. Does anyone want to expand a little on how much care you give the artists? Is it a place where you’ll help artists get whatever they need or would you rather they figure things out on their own? Both extremes are out there, with residency staff at the beck and call and on the other end, we’ve heard horror stories where artists show up to a place with no heat, no hot water, no electricity and the landlord stops by the next day to ask them to pay the rent. {laughs} We don’t list those on the website of course. But one of the things we don’t do is say what is a “good” or “bad” residency, because we think that each space can suit a different kind of artist. One of things that really changes how residency works is the staff-to-artist ratio, and how much care is given.

Emma: For Red Gate, because we have so many artists, we take advantage of “strength-in-numbers’. We can have up to 15 artists at once, across nine spaces. In the year and a half since I’ve run the program, I’ve gone through some trial and error but the best way that I’ve found is to, in the first couple of weeks, empower the artists to figure things out for themselves. So I give them a lot of information in the beginning, because there’s no way that the two or three of us could address everyone’s every need. And as I mentioned, that’s not what we’re about since six of our studios are in a migrant worker village a bit outside the city. So you’re not too far, but you’re sort of on your own. I think it’s really important that the artists help each other. And they don’t feel happy calling me or Brian to ask “how do I get a cab?” Nobody wants that. It’s about being very present in the first couple of weeks and then also like to be able to get around on their own, so I think it’s a matter of being very present at the beginning and help them take advantage of the residency in the first couple weeks. Also, ample preparations before hand: yes, the internet probably won’t work, yes, there’s a lot of dust.

Brian: Good preparation is key, very much so.

Christina: We have advisors who know spring really well and recommend people to come to Spring, so many of them already know what to expect, and it’s the same with our partners. At the same time, with longer residencies, we really have a lot of preparation, long Skype meetings, we ask them what they need. We’re also not just a residency, we have other things going on, so we don’t want people with lots of last minute demands. We have three studios, so it’s quite a lot of resources, so on one hand, we’re very hospitable and supportive, on the other hand we also give them liberty to do their own things. All residents are very different, some want to get lost, some want to be shown around. There’s no real model for how to treat everybody. We’ve been doing this for two and a half years, so we know how to manage expectations and help people get the most out of their residency.

Kira: One of the other things that’s always the elephant in the room when we talk about residencies is money. How do residencies stay in business and stay funded? What does a residency mean financially, for an artist? You can choose not to answer if you’d like.

Ingrid: I think with all of our programs, there’s always some budget for programming residents that come, but I think like a lot of international residencies, it’s a combination of that and a blend of other sources of funding. We always find a place for them to stay, it’s just not on our premises and we find a way to help them achieve what they want to do here by facilitating and supporting their research. We also work with people from Hong Kong, and in that case they would already be here.

Jay: An artist needs to have some resources to get to us and then once they’re there, we take care of everything. We’ve notice that private funding is much more flexible than a government grant.

Brian: We have funded residencies from Asia New Zealand, Asialink, Davidoff, Red Mansion in the UK, Videobrasil, the Cultural Forum of Austria and the Goethe Institute and then artists from other countries can also apply for their own funding or pay their own way.  

Emma: Just to add to that although yes, some artists pay their own way, I strongly encourage against artists paying out of their own pocket.

Antonie: With our space, it’s national funding so it’s different for every resident.

Kira: Artist ask us all the time how they can get funding for a residency and one of the ideas we’d like to see catch on is for artists to ask people who have bought their work in the past to buy them a residency, then they would get a work that would result from that residency (and if they really don’t like it, they could get a different piece) [laughs] So we’re trying to think of new ways to fund things. None of you mentioned it, but I don’t think anyone here is many any money off the residency and it’s actually probably a very good way to lose money. But we all agree that it’s important to provide artists a way to make things. We hear of a lot of residencies facing issues and we’re hoping that some of the more established programs can give advice to the younger ones and that we can all share ideas on how to help residencies keep running sustainably.

Brian: I just want to follow up on a thought we had earlier about helping each other, and starting residencies for residencies! {laughs}

Antonie: Yes, that would be great!  

Brian: So Red Gate has quite a lot of space, and if other residency directors would like to come spend some time in Beijing, we would be happy to inaugurate this.

Jay: And that might make things easier for visas. That would be another resource, if there is an institution that would be willing to back this.

Chantal: I’m thinking of setting up a residency, but you know when I speak to people, sometimes I hear that some projects don’t always work. So the angst of having a full time job and running this thing -- and I know we talked about managing expectations,  but what happens ultimately if it doesn't work out, how do you manage disappointment?

Kira: I can talk about this a little, we got some funding from Australia to send artists to residencies in second and third tier cities, and we always say that residencies don’t have to have an outcome, they can just be for research. And one of the artist that we sent to Kunming did a film project and at first was upset that his project didn’t work out as he wanted. There were money problems, he got injured, and he was making a beautiful film about a couple in a Bai minority village that was getting married, and filmed a lot of things and just couldn’t put it together in the short time he was there. When we spoke after his residency, he apologized and felt really bad, and we said “no, it’s great, you’re on to something.” We don’t need to see anything right now, if this becomes something later, that’s fantastic, but I don’t see that as a failure, I see that as something that needs to be continued, and that he can take on and continue in other ways. There’s a lot of room outside of the success/failure dichotomy to do research, explore and experiment.

Chantal: But sometimes it’s the other person that might think it’s a failure--

Kira:  Oh, the residency? That’s their problem. {laughs} It’s that same question of managing expectations, if you promise the artists that they’re going to have a great time and that they will be really successful as a result of this residency, that’s great, just make sure you make it happen! Don’t make false promises, be realistic, and no one will be disappointed.

{Artist}: I’ve also found as I’ve participated in some residencies, I’ve found that when someone is going on a residency, it’s because they’re searching for something, they’re definitely open for something to happen. Even if it doesn’t happen by the time the residency ends, it’s because there are long term effects that might not even materialize until much later on in their work or lives. I think it’s exactly what you’re saying about managing expectations and just being clear about what’s being offered, and the rest is up to them, they chose to be there. There’s a reason why, and it might not be clear right away.

Emma: Also just to add to that, it’s not supposed to be comfortable to do a residency at Red Gate. It’s not supposed to be painful, of course {laughs} but the fact is that you’re in a new environment and it’s not Vienna, it’s going to be challenging and difficult and stressful, and that’s a part of living. Just making sure people know what they are getting into is important.

Kira: We’ll open this up to questions in just a second, but first, running a residency is really hard work, and I want to thank everyone for coming and speaking honestly about what’s going on, but also for just doing what you do and providing opportunities. Especially in a place like this at Art Basel, where it could seem like art is just a thing that you buy, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, like Mimi was saying, no one really sees all the work that happens before an artist can get here. It’s really important to support the process, not just the product.


Ingrid: I just wanted to say a closing word because this is actually the final Open Platform session for this year. Thank you all for joining us, there have been so many productive conversations this week, in direct conversation with the action and commotion of the fair and we appreciate your participation. You are our audience, for all the programs we do, and I’d like to recognize all of the AAA staff who have facilitated these talks. Thank you so much! {applause}