16-18 November 2016, Helsinki

The Residencies Reflected symposium sets out to reflect on residencies as spaces for artistic development on cultural thresholds that have been opened up by accelerated globalization – between people, places, languages, climates, species, things. It addresses the enduring significance and radical re-signification of mobility in relation to artistic practices by mapping historical trajectories, current economic and political pressures, as well as the impact of ecological and humanitarian urgencies, which position residencies today at the intersection of unsettled dichotomies such as private and public, home and elsewhere, temporary and permanent. The symposium aims thus at articulating the position of residencies within the ecosystem of contemporary art today while recognizing the ongoing processes of wider societal changes and their affects on the arts, professional practices and movement.

In recent years artist residencies have gained ever-stronger presence and broader significance in the field of contemporary art. We have witnessed not only a growing number but notably also diversification and professionalization of residency activities. As residencies have become increasingly important support structures for exhibitions and new productions, professional networks and career opportunities, there is a heightened demand to also argue for the irreducible specificity of residencies within the contemporary art ecosystem as a safeguarded time and space for artistic practice, in-depth reflection and critical encounters. The impacts of residencies resist measurement as quantifiable results yet have to gain other means of recognition and articulation: such as experimentation and research without predefined ends or academic frameworks, multilateral peer-networks and accidental communities, cross-disciplinary and transcultural dialogue. Moreover, the future development of residencies is founded on the understanding of the changing conditions, needs and potential of artistic work. As a response, the symposium and the following publication set out to gather existing knowledge and foster emerging discourse on residencies and their critical role in the field of contemporary art today.

The symposium programme is built around two interlinked enquiries that map the shifting landscape where residencies are located today: the notions and realities of artistic work, on the one hand, and of mobility, on the other. Ecological and economic frameworks at present form challenging coordinates for residencies and raise acute questions about sustainability and inclusivity – in terms of both access and limits to resources, knowledge, time, and the space necessary for artistic practice and movement.

The symposium invites residency professionals to collectively reflect on this present moment as a crossroads towards possible futures. It brings together a range of residency practices as well as historical accounts and critical reflections on residencies in relation to current macro-societal changes. The symposium opens with an public event and lecture at the Theatre Academy in Helsinki and continues over two days as an intensive retreat at HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme on the island of Suomenlinna. The programme is structured around keynote presentations and workshops focused on a range of key concerns. The symposium is co-organized by the Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki, HIAP and Frame Contemporary Art Finland, with support by Kone Foundation. It will be followed by the publication of an anthology that draws together the emerging critical discourse on residencies.


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