by Amish Morrell
Residencies typically provide artists with living space and work facilities, financial support, and often the opportunity to engage with their peers around a specific theme or set of ideas. There are numerous high-profile residencies around the world that offer coveted opportunities for artists to further specific ideas and practices, and to develop their careers. But residencies can provide resources other than time, space and funding—a chance to engage unique or unusual contexts. There are residencies in backyard sheds, barns, thrift stores, distilleries, national parks, and in hammocks, as well as in rickshaws, bathrooms, bomb shelters, on hiking trails, and in parkas, among many other sites. Residencies such as these impose specific conditions and present unique opportunities that in turn shape artists’ ideas and work. And for artists (as well as for those who are not artists), they propose ways of integrating critical and creative practices into our existing activities and routines.
In this issue we look at a number of permanent and temporary residency projects where artists are enlisted to engage specific sites or audiences. Writer Sky Goodden interviews artist Wanda Koop about Art City, a community arts centre and residency that Koop founded in downtown Winnipeg in 1998. Arts education scholar Stephanie Springgay writes about The Pedagogical Impulse, a research and creation project that involved placing artists in secondary schools in Toronto, as well as the Artist Placement Group, an organization that placed artists in government and industrial workplaces, and in schools, in Britain starting in the 1960s. And for the centerfold, artist Reena Katz has included documents from another residency of sorts— the Queer Bed-in based on Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s 1969 Bed-in for Peace in Montreal. For this project, Katz, along with Ilona Molnar, Trish Salah, Sedina Fiati, keiron, the R3 Collective, Troy Jackson, El-Farouk Khaki, Ange Loft and the Two–spirit Skillshare, invited the public to hang out with them in bed for several days of discussion and community building.
Writers in this issue also look critically at the role of residencies in shaping artists’ careers, as well as their ecological and social impact. Writer Laura Kenins surveys a number of residencies that are focused on environmental sustainability, advocating for models that help us to connect with and contribute to the places where we live. In my interview with Shinobu Akimoto and Matthew Evans, these two artists discuss Residency for Artists on Hiatus, a project that critiques the role of institutions in shaping artists’ careers and defining what constitutes artistic practice. Creating their own organization that appropriates many aspects of the structure and language of other arts organizations, residents are invited to not make art for the duration of the residency, documenting and sharing their non-art activities, to be subsequently placed within the legitimizing frame of an “official” art institution.
Many other residencies also offer ways to integrate artistic practice into one’s existing activities, experimenting with familiar physical, social and institutional contexts. One such project that appears in this issue is Jp King’s Airline-Artist-in-Residence Program, or AAIR. In each copy of the magazine, there is a hand-printed letter of invitation for you to be official artist-in-residence during your next flight, as well as a residency report form that you may submit to the Nomadic Residency Council upon the completion of your flight. The projects that appear throughout this issue reveal the vast range of sites where artistic production and dialogue can occur— a useful insight for those of us who are far too busy to take the time that a residency demands.