09.26.2016 · Residency
With an invitation from The Luminary as a part of their annual International Exchange program and support from the Regional Arts Commission, I spent two weeks as an artist-in-residence at ZK/U (Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Center for Art and Urbanistics) in Berlin this summer. The residency came at a crescendo of collaborative processes I am a part of in St. Louis. It was a moment to think critically about the implications of my work and to recommit to what I have been cultivating.
I am interested in the art of small scale, gradual movements and collaborative tension. I am interested in the narrative of a network and dots that connect when it’s time. Since 2011, I have been a part of The Pink House neighborhood art space. On a map, it’s located within the Normandy School District Collaborative in North St. Louis County. In the flesh, it is a small salmon-colored cottage, a next door neighbor, and a public studio for creative exchanges with young people and their families. Collaborative teaching artists come from walking distance, from across the city and the country. We imagine the space as we would a sculpture, creating a more supportive place for children to invite artists and be(come) artists, to be heard so they may hear themselves. The Pink House is currently supported by the local non-profit Beyond Housing, and formerly by Rebuild Foundation.
Prior to leaving for Berlin, I doubted my understanding of my process as an individual artist. I doubted my focus and boundary setting in work intensely embedded inside human dynamics and relationships.
At ZK/U, I had a plain room to myself. The residency staff exuded clearly, this is a space and time that I tailor to myself. I dedicated those days to walking - walking as a practice, a mediation, and a privilege. I walked to learn something about the land unrelated to human concepts. I walked to lose track and to elude time. I walked without a map of borders and lines to get a different sense of distance and boundaries.
The artist residency at ZK/U supported extremes of solitude and the chance encounters of community. My stay taught me a lot about my desire to strike the balance. I prioritized time alone in my plain room and congregated occasionally to share selectively the fruits of solitude. Smoke break rituals were lengthened by questions and commentary from multi-disciplinary thinkers from all over a map. It was a brief and potent time of: language across boundaries like musical sounds; the accumulation of passageways that connect more people and places; and mapping relationships that encourage us to take risks.
While in Berlin, I met with Marcus Ferreira (DJ Garrincha), co-founder of Tropical Diaspora, an independent record label and event that shares the heritage of the African musical Diasporas as it has influenced the Americas and the rest of the world. I shared with Marcus about the clothesline event I am a part of in St. Louis, a monthly installation where artists intersect to transform a space for one night only. We are currently in the process of curating a clothesline + Tropical Diaspora collaboration. My individual and collaborative artistic ambitions superimposed, and with renewed momentum.
Thank you to The Luminary for the opportunity to expand the map of my connections and perspective. Thank you to the Regional Arts Commission for supporting my travel and lens. Thank you to every single ZK/U staff member and artist resident for your unflinching openness, with special thanks to Lotta Schäfer and Yasmine Hrimeche.
The Luminary's 2016 International Exchange: Berlin was organized by Sarrita Hunn, The Luminary and ZK/U. St. Louis participant Regina Martinez spent two weeks at ZK/U and Berlin residents Nightmare City will be in residence at The Luminary in October, 2016.