Time & Vision
By Paul Bayley
The prominence of the international residency as an essential component of any ambitious artist’s curriculum vitae is a relatively recent phenomenon. However, this increasingly visible area of activity is still a largely unregulated and underreported part of the art world.
There is no doubt in my mind that artists benefit greatly from taking these opportunities, however the end results are hard to quantify. It is probably also true that the wider world regards them with a suspicion that borders on the incredulity given to bankers’ bonuses. ‘You mean an artist can get paid to go on a free holiday where they do exactly what they would be doing in their own studio?’, is a question I have been asked on more than one occasion.
Whilst not doubting for a second that there are serial residency attendees and knowing that artists are not immune from the touristic influence, the fact is that most artists relish the chance to try something different, somewhere different. They have also, with the benefit of new technology, turned themselves into very efficient small businesses, expanding into new territories, establishing new professional networks and creating action research in the form of new work. This has to some extent created a sort of internationalism amongst an elite group of nomadic artists that works cross-culturally.
There is more in common between a Korean, a Swedish and an Australian artist meeting on an international residency than the fact they are artists: they instinctively share a vocabulary and concerns that go way beyond any aesthetic similarities. The experience of this internationalism has changed the nature of the art that is currently being produced in various art capitals around the world.