Caucasus – Balkan Express Artist-in-residence

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Caucasus-Balkan Express
ARTISTS -IN -RESIDENCE

Art actively engaging the social tissue – socially engaged art – encompasses a broad range of views and practices even if we focus on one single city. On a broader sociogeographical range multiplied by years or decades in time, we see a vast space of human experience where differences align or contrast, and a shifting landscape of communities of practice emerges.

The forces that shape or influence this process are everything between local and geopolitical. Structures of social organization (the government, civil society, art schools or the art market) are all actors that we can identify in this process – and still, we cannot and should not disregard the role of the individual, be him or her an artist or a “simple” citizen. In fact, it’s always persons who interact, even in the most intricate or overelaborated cases of institutional interactions.

We keep underemphasizing the role of individuals in a world interwoven with threads of structural violence and still, in the end it is always flesh and bone persons responsible for both (social) stillness and motion – at all scales. This is why art residences as immersive experiences are productive. In shaping the way artists interact with each other and ultimately, with community or society, we intend to apply the artists potential as a social actor to the wide and diverse space ranging from Cluj to Tbilisi, Yerevan and beyond, over the Caucasus area. The residence is designed for artists to transaction and transcode cultural meaning, and produce mutual, cross-contextual learning. This crossfertilization of methods, techniques, tactics, strategies and action has the potential to contribute – on both sides equally – to a deeper understanding of the context we are situated in and to trigger better informed and therefore enriched stillness or motion.

Or both.

Istvan Szakats & Rarita Zbranca

A nomad Artists-in-Residence programme took place in Cluj (16-31 May), Tbilisi (9-15 June), and Yerevan (15-21 June). Artists Vahe Budumyan, Armenia, Giorgi Khasaia, Georgia, Vilmos Koter, Romania and Tanja Radež, Slovenia explored the urban realities of Cluj, Tbilisi and Yerevan and produced a series of artistic interventions in public space, to reflect back to the local communities their insights. The residents met with local experts, traveled around the cities, research their history and current realities. They have produced a series of artistic interventions:
Giorgi Khasaia: Exchage Labour (performance, Cluj), Fish Size (action, Yerevan), Lavash Nash! (action, Yerevan)
Vahe Budumyan: Missing Places (7 postcards distributed in the cities, Cluj, Tbilisi, Yerevan)
Tanja Radež: Cross Story (public interventions, Cluj, Tbilisi, Yerevan)
Vilmos Koter: Bless you (public intervention, Cluj), At the end … (public intervention, Cluj, Tbilisi, Yerevan)

A public presentation of the project, the artists, their interventions took place in Cluj at Fabrica de Pensule, Tbilisi at Nectar Gallery, and in Yerevan at the Institute for Contemporary Art.

Read the full catalogue of the artistic residencies in the frame of the Caucasus – Balkan Express project: Caucasus-Balkan Express Artist in residence catalogue

Caucasus-Balkan Express project is initiated by the AltArt Foundation, Cluj and Balkan Express Network, Ljubljana, in partnership with Public Art Platform and Bouillon Group, Tbilisi, and ICA, Yerevan.
With the financial support of the Black Sea Trust – A Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, The European Union – Culture Programme and the Romanian Cultural Institute.

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