Artistic work abroad has a long tradition – while the nobility used to send out talents in the past, this important promotional function is nowadays fulfilled by public institutions. The foreign residency programme of the Austrian Federal Chancellery is one of the longest-standing and most consistent support schemes in this context. At present, it can award twelve temporary studio places located at ten destinations at a distance ranging from 160 to 11,000 km. Every year these working and residential spaces are used anew by around 50 artists.
Austria shares a cultural heritage with some of these destinations, while others are purely foreign. Some destinations welcome the artists with co-operation programmes, whereas others need to be discovered by the artists on their own. Each stay and each foreign studio tells a story. In the diary, AWAY embarks on a quest to capture the local colour of the destinations, the working conditions and experiences of current artists-in-residence.
It all started in the 1970s. Apart from Paris, Rome was one of the first foreign studio destinations to be included in the programme of the Federal Chancellery. Since then, many new destinations were added, while others such as Prague, Berlin, Krakow, Chicago and Fujino were abandoned again. The selection of cities for setting up and opening foreign studios depends on numerous parameters and variables. Artistic, logistic, organisational as well as economic considerations determine the selection of destinations, and these have changed again and again over time, just like the programme itself.
Apart from the geographic location and artistic relevance of destinations, a decisive aspect is the possibility to co-operate with renowned art institutions locally so that the artists-in-residence can benefit from a continuous programme and a multitude of synergies. Other studios deliberately function autonomously because their destinations can only be explored on the artists’ own initiative or because there have not been any interesting “co-operation opportunities” to date.
All foreign studios are defined by disciplines, with fine arts apparently accounting for as many as eleven out of 17 studios, while four are dedicated to art photography and two to video and media art. On the one hand, this distribution evolved historically since fine artists were the first ones to whom foreign studios were made available by the Federal Chancellery. On the other hand, fine arts as a generic category constitutes the biggest focal area in the institution’s promotion portfolio so that most applications are received in this field. But in times when many a genre boundary blurs, the individual studio specialisations naturally also relax.
In some places, however, quite pragmatic, spatial circumstances justify an assignment to a specific discipline: rooms located on the ground floor permit work with heavy materials for which an apartment located on the 55th floor of a building in New York would be ill suited; focused research activities are better pursued in a certain seclusion, while the implementation of technologically sophisticated works requires appropriate equipment.
In terms of organisation, too, the foreign studios of the Federal Chancellery are a motley group – the two photography destinations in New York and London are properties owned by the Republic of Austria, the studio located in Mexico City is made available on the embassy premises by the Foreign Ministry and other objects are rented for the purpose of artist residencies.
It is obvious that such a heterogeneous mix of differing framework conditions, artists’ expectations and needs as well as the overall organisation of both sides constitute a highly complex endeavour. In addition to services of the public sector, the commitment to and understanding of the cause as well as good co-operation partners on site, the foreign studio system above all relies on collaboration with the artist community. Is it the artists themselves who share responsibility for the continuation of the programme? In the diary and on the Instagram residency, they have their say – directly and without being censored. Maybe they also answer that question there.read less
#awayresidency is an invitation to those artists who are participating in the Foreign Studio Programme of the Federal Chancellery Austria and are currently residing in one of the international destinations. The virtual residency enables these fellows despite their geographical absence to be visible for one week. Each by taking over our Instagram profile artistsaway in a completely uncensored manner, making it possible for us to participate in their stay abroad and watch their art production in the foreign countries. Not only allowing the "takeover" of an account, but actively offering has become a popular activity in the institutional art landscape. Still it is interesting to see which new rooms are opened up every single time.
Art has long since arrived in the digital world - not only on the production side, but also on the reception and marketing level, with a variety of online venues and channels, it offers completely new possibilities.
Whether it sells itself, watered down their originality and leveled off at the supermarket level or rather conquered a new independence, freed from rigid to repressive sales models, generated new audiences and thus reached an immensely larger audience, is everywhere widely discussed.
In addition to numerous "how to" guidebooks, there are a number of stories circulating in the network about prominent art buyers who demonstrate alleged independence from the art market with the "online abbreviation". And indeed, more and more art-savvy people are announcing themselves on Facebook, Instagram & Co about current trends and developments. Many a shooting star owe their discovery to the virtual presence and finally, it is said, artists could take their "business" into their own hands.
Artists, curators and collectors alike are on social networks and social media tools to keep themselves informed and up to date. Quite clearly, Instagram & Co have a strong discovery and multiplication function due to their low-threshold perception possibility, which probably does not replace galleries and art fairs, but whose work will influence more and more in the future. Where followers can become influencers through consistent presence and taste demonstration with likes, there may be plenty of "air on top" on the other side as well.
"It's hype for sure, which has negative and positive effects. In her article "How collectors use Instagram to Buy Art" for Artsy.net, Elena Soboleva quotes a collector from New York as saying "But if your artwork is not represented on Instagram these days, do you exist?"
AWAY picks up the tension between pro and contra with its Instagram Residency artistsaway and clearly presents itself as an innovative platform on which one can show what one is working on, but which one can consciously refuse. What else needs to be hacked and hijacked is provided by AWAY temporarily and uncensored as an "invitation to explore".
The virtual residency consists of networking future scholarship holders with their predecessors, successors and all interested parties. Follow this artistic freedom on Instagram under our account artistsaway and hashtag #awayresidency.read less
With #awayguestresidency we again link AWAY with the promotional activities of the Federal States of Austria. Scholarship holders from Salzburg and Styria take us on their residency and show us for a week what they want and are consider interesting in their international destinations.
A diary is a very personal thing. Those who keep a diary want to save and preserve something – they document both special and everyday occurrences to remember them. Thus, diaries reflect a kind of private contemporary history. We asked artists who benefited from residencies in recent years or just returned from residencies or currently work in studios of the Federal Chancellery abroad provide us with texts and pictures to give us an insight into their personal day-to-day work – to outline what they do, where their thoughts wander and how they are doing in a foreign environment.read more
The artists also write about practical things worth knowing about residencies abroad and about things future residents can prepare for and look forward to. As a rule, such notes are not shared readily. We are pleased that we are allowed to publish these private documentations here. They differ widely, but all of them are uncensored originals. Some artists deliberately decided not to participate in the AWAY diary – a refusal we fully accept. For others, our request to get an insight into their foreign residency experience may have provided the inspiration for starting to write it down in the first place.read less
During the first month, I was out and about every minute to explore the city together with my colleagues. We went to each and every exhibition, each and every museum, to Tiananmen Square, to the Great Wall, had a beer in the centre...