Thursday, February 19, 2009

History of artist-in-residence programs

History of artist-in-residence programs

It seems that we are currently dealing with a fashionable phenomenon that owes its explosive growth solely to globalization of artists’ ‘nomadic’ behavior. However, artist-in-residence programs have not appeared out of the blue. The phenomenon has been part of the international art world for over a century.

In any case, the artist residency appears to have arisen from two streams.

1. Those who wish to bring artists into their environments, so as to 'humanize' them, or to extend research and development outside of traditional fields.

2. Those who wish to provide solitude, space, resources for artists.

1900 First development of artist in residence programs

The first wave of artist-in-residence programs came at the beginning of the last century. Often founded by art-loving benefactors or corporations, they regarded offering guest studios to individual artists as a new kind of patronage. On the other hand, residencies founded by artists were run on their own terms: a sense of community was very prominent in these artists' colonies. Both models were typical of a lot of other artist-in-residence programs which were set up during the first decades of the 20th century, both in the United States and Europe.

The University Residency was intended to humanize the university and allowed for interdepartmental hybridity or persons able to float through resources.

1960 Second development of artist in residence programs

A new wave of artist-in-residence programs emerged in the 1960s, adding two new models to the ones that already existed. One new model offered artists the opportunity to withdraw temporarily from a society which was considered bourgeois. They preferred to create their own utopia in seclusion. The other new model, on the other hand, tried to contact the public and aimed for social engagement: guest studios in villages and cities served as a base for society change.

1990 Globalization: new wave of artist in residence programs

As from the nineties a third wave of residency programs proliferated all over the globe: from Brazil to Taiwan, from Estonia to Zambia, from Japan to Vietnam. Characteristic of this new wave is the rich diversity of residency models: from not required hospitality at one end of the spectrum, to almost commission-like projects at the other end of the spectrum. Because of its global expansion and its seemingly unrestrained popularity, these new artist-in-residence opportunities have attracted more attention in the art world. However, we must not forget that new residency opportunities do have their historical roots. Neither should we forget that the 'old', established programs are still offering their expertise, contacts, advice and support to the new opportunities.

The Nomadesk's Historical Situation

The Nomadesk Writer's Residency intends to fulfill both of the primary models set forth. It first provides space and resource to the writer, fulfilling the studio/office-like needs. It secondly inserts writers into the public space, often absent of authors. By extending the studio into public space I intend to provide both resource & spectacle, and alleviating or intensifying myths of writers-in-solitude. Lastly, while the residency is intended to be nomadic and wandering, it is, in this case, conatined to The Island of Montreal.