A bit about Microresidencies, the places they inhabit, the people who run them, and the future

As published on the Microresidency Network webpage, October, 2015. 


About Microresidencies

These are not institutions. 

They are lovingly cultivated from an idea, a vision to create a new and fantastical place, embedded within a given time and place. 

They are a nucleus of dedicated energy, surrounded by an ever-changing orbit of artists, makers, friends, and neighbors. 

They are not bound by an ever-changing political agenda. 

They don’t fit in.

They connect guests with hosts, skills with materials, locals with new inspiration. 

They are intimate. 

They have beds and showers. Part of the experience is in fact, normal life, but a new normal. Adaptive behaviors inspire new methodologies; new routines trigger new modes of production. 

They are free, though generally also free from much needed funding and support.  

They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. 


The places they inhabit

They are urban and suburban, in villages, and surrounded by nature. 

The formation of such places requires a convergence of people, time, space, and resources. 

There is considerable risk. 

Neighbors and friends may not completely understand what it is that is going on. 

There will be suspicions. 

But then, through sustained persistence, things start to happen, though praise can come in mysterious forms. 

Their audience might be limited, but those to participate are there with genuine interest, not obligation or a chance to advance themselves in the art world. 


The people who run them

This is not their job, its their life, its their passion. 

This being said, they may not make the most logical of choices from a business perspective, or from the opinion of the art world. 

They are artists and authors, choreographers and curators. 

They have previous lives. 

They are members of an invisible, yet invincible network of other cultural pioneers.

They sometimes converge at conferences, exhibitions or other international events and find they have more in common than their closest friends and partners back home.

They are tired of nationalism, tokenism, and institutionalism. 

They are lovers of projects of every shape and form. 

They choose who they work with. 

They are polite and curious, understanding of cultural differences, and tolerant of awkwardness. 

They are not afraid to be alone. 


And the future

There will be more.

Microresidencies create sustainable, sincere people-to-people connections across political, racial, class-based, and national borders. 

These spaces will close. 

More often than not, these spaces rely heavily on the initiators’ time and passion.  Interests shift, resources change, and people grow older. 

This is normal, and this is ok! 

But do not let history be lost. The experiences of these initiators are invaluable, meaningful case studies should result, to be shared with the next generations of cultural entrepreneurs. 

Tell your story. 

Lets be transparent about the financial reality; not just a sharing physical budget lines, but an openness about the intangible resources these spaces rely upon. Increase awareness among artists and the greater art world that micro-residencies are a unique breed of art space, inconsistent even amongst themselves, existing not to win grants and pay artists, but engage in a completely unique form project creation and collaboration. 

 

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© Julie Upmeyer 2016