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The artist and the residency

By M.C. REODICA, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 02, 2021 6:00 am

Artist residencies serve myriad purposes under the premise of giving artists a space to do their work, along with different forms of support in making it a conducive environment for them to explore their practice.

Some residencies aim for artists to engage with the communities wherein the residency is rooted, examining the idea of artist-to-community engagement itself. Some are made possible by institutions, while others are supported by the local organizations and the residents themselves. Many residency programs are initiated by artists who also recognize the prolific potential of these stays.

Many artists aim to participate in renowned art residency programs offered by institutions abroad, but the Philippines has also seen a surge of residencies springing up nationwide, from urban areas to fishing towns.

Ultimately, the term “residency” encompasses different programs that can provide footholds for artistic and cultural exchange, creating a setting to spark new works and conversations.

Some residencies offer exhibition spaces for output produced during the artist’s stay, while other residencies are focused on process. Other residencies provide structured programs such as talks and workshops during the artist’s stay, while others are self-directed by the resident itself.

The length of residencies can vary widely. Ultimately, the term “residency” encompasses different programs that can provide footholds for artistic and cultural exchange, creating a setting to spark new works and conversations.

Art Fair PH 2021 has shone a spotlight on five of these residencies, which provide a diverse slice of the artist programs offered in our own regional vicinity. As part of this spotlight, Art Fair PH and Bleeding Heart Rum Company, the makers of Don Papa Rum, will be providing financial support to five selected artists in each residency.

Linangan Art Residency program, Cavite, Luzon

The Linangan Art Residency is guided by the three values of capacity building, concept development, and community engagement. Under these, it provides opportunities for outdoor activities, and educational art workshops for artists it welcomes in Cavite, which has undergone many infrastructural and environmental shifts as Metro Manila’s urban sprawl rapidly spreads out south of the city.

Emerging islands, La Union, Luzon

Emerging Islands is an interdisciplinary program that is open to not just visual art, but literature, music, photography, philosophy and others, situated in the popular surf town that was a tourist hotspot until the pandemic.

It features a communal space for residents to work with other artists, with opportunities for culminating exhibitions.

The Orange Project Art Residency, Bacolod, Visayas

Bacolod has long been a wellspring of Philippine art, and The Orange Project occupies a multi-building complex in the heart of the city that houses several galleries, food spots, and shops. The two-floor exhibition hall itself hosts one of the most spacious venues in the area.

Butanding Barrio, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Visayas

This residency in Puerto Princesa is situated near scenic diving spots and snorkeling sites, providing an environmentally oriented setting for producing art. It is described as a “free-flowing” residency by Art Fair PH, with a wide range of possibilities for artists aiming for a self-directed stay and a window for working with local artisans and craftsmen.

Manila Observatory, Quezon City, Luzon

The Manila Observatory bridges together two disciplines that are often treated as separate by default: science and art. The program emphasizes climate change awareness and pre-disaster science, and the roles these play in poverty reduction and sustainable development.

A new premise that lies ahead of artist residencies is the pandemic’s impact on travel, physical gatherings, and spaces where art and culture are generated. Though what most people see in a gallery is the resulting artwork, many artists would consider their studio — or their conception of such — as inseparable from their practice that produces these objects.

The past year alone has shifted paradigms about an artist’s relationship with their studio in quarantine, which has highlighted the inseparability of the studio space from socioeconomic circumstances, along with financial and material resources.

The security of having a studio, even for a temporary yet predetermined period of time, is a boon for many artists. What enables an artist’s practice, after all, is basic necessities such as food, shelter, and the time to actually work on art. I’m personally interested in seeing how artist residencies will be addressing these new conditions in the years to come — and how it will be reflected in their art.