Artist Residencies

A Model for a Postgraduate Academy in Innsbruck?

Symposium, 26.03.2004
Work conference for policy makers, 27.03.2004

The idea for Artist Residencies—A Model for a Postgraduate Academy in Innsbruck?, a symposium and work conference for policy makers stemmed, on the one hand, from the need at that time for localization and reflection on Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen’s own, fledgling institutional practice within a broader international context. On the other hand, the event aimed to contribute to the at that time intensively-led public debate about the profile of a soon-to-be-established art department at the Innsbruck University.

The symposium explored the prospects and possibilities of a postgraduate academy modeled after an artist-in-residence program and curated production labs, as practiced at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen. Directors of international institutions also involved in promoting artist mobility—the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL), the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (NL), and Künstlerhaus Schloss Plüschow (D) introduced their own institutions and programs and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of such a model for Innsbruck.

The work conference for policy makers was held at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen one day after the symposium. Ideas formulated during the symposium were clarified once again and discussed in a conversation with local politicians, civil servants, curators, cultural mediators and representatives of the University of Innsbruck. In the course of the debate, experts came to the consensus that an institution with a similar profile to the Jan van Eyck Academie (a post-academic institute for research and production in the fields of fine art, design and theory) would make sense in conjunction with artists’ residences for Innsbruck, though the focus should be only on art and theory. Such an institution would be aimed primarily at artists and theorists who have already completed an arts degree and/or can refer to a practice of at least five years. This kind of academy would have no curriculum and would not provide certificates or diplomas. Participants would be given a fellowship and the opportunity to work relatively free from financial concerns for a period of one to two years. During this time, they could also interact with advisors (internationally-established artists, curators and theorists) concerning their proposed projects and plans. The post-graduate academy should be accessible to all, meaning both local artists and theorists as well as candidates from abroad. Because this kind of post-graduate institution did not exist in Austria, experts concluded that it would certainly be possible for the Tyrol and Innsbruck locations to develop their own profile within a short time, both in Austria and internationally. Like the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the postgraduate academy in Innsbruck was to be structured as a cultural institution and not as an educational facility. This type of organization would guarantee a certain independence of content and provide a largely broad and open framework for discussion, which would be designed and regulated solely by the works and projects proposed by the participants.

One and a half years later, Andrei Siclodi and Ingeborg Erhart did the exhibition and lecture series Private Investigations. Research, Knowledge Acquisition and -Processing in Contemporary Art Practices (2005-07) in collaboration with the Jan van Eyck Academie. A practical continuation of the ideas articulated at the conference, the exhibitions and presentations in the three exhibition spaces of the Tiroler Künstler:innenschaft (Tyrolean Artists’ Association) (Kunstpavillon, Büchsenhausen, Stadtturmgalerie) gave an overall impression of what a postgraduate academy in Innsbruck could do.

A few years later, when plans for an art department in Innsbruck were struck down once and for all, Andrei Siclodi developed a concept for a Postgraduate School for Art and Theory in Innsbruck on behalf of the Board of the Tiroler Künstler:innenschaft, the core idea of which envisaged the expansion of the International Fellowship Program for Art and Theory at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen in the direction of a postgraduate academy. These plans were temporarily placed on hold after the outbreak of the 2009 financial crisis.

Symposium program:

• Interfaces for Art—Production and Knowledge Transfer at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen
Andrei Siclodi, Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, Innsbruck
• The Künstlerhaus Model—On the Necessity of Constructions into the Open
Miro Zahra, Künstlerhaus Schloss Plüschow, Plüschow
• Post-academic Institute? Research and Production? Fine Art, Design and Theory?
Koen Brams, Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht
• Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten—More Than a Residency
Janwillem Schrofer, Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam

Lectures and speakers:

Andrei Siclodi:
Interfaces for Art—Production and Knowledge Transfer at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen

Andrei Siclodi pictured Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen as a center for artistic production and communication with an international focus—an institution that encouraged interaction between regional artist communities (including those using Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen’s subsidized studios) and international fellows (within the framework of the büchsenhausen.air residency program and the büchsenhausen.labor curatorial program).

Andrei Siclodi was at that time the curator of the büchsenhausen.air artist-in-residence program and a member of the büchsenhausen.labor curatorial team.

Miro Zahra:
The Künstlerhaus Model—On the Necessity of Constructions into the Open

The most important thing for a space occupied by artists for an uncertain length of time is to protect personal artistic freedom and preserve independence of content. It is only in its openness, transparency and courage for change that the Künstlerhaus model can assert itself as an open space in the long term—as a creative site for art and artists. The Künstlerhaus should be seen not only as a site of production, but as one of gathering and communication: a portal for artists to step outside of time; a space in which the independence of time can be conceived as a realm of thought, even absolutely. It is an attempt at construction into the open. (Text: Miro Zahra)

Miro Zahra, artist and curator, has had numerous solo and group exhibitions (since 1985) in Europe and the United States. Director of the Schloss Plüschow artist residency in Mecklenburg (1997-2002), she is an active member of Res Artis, the worldwide network of residency programs for artists.

Koen Brams:
Post-academic Institute? Research and Production? Fine Art, Design and Theory?

“Post-academic”—Koen Brams thought about the meaning of this term and asked himself whether he could work with it: if “post” means “after“ or “further than“the academic, then he would or could keep the term. And if the word “academic” is synonymous with a method of dealing with a research problem—a method already standardized down to the last detail—disciplinary experiment, meticulously-prescribed manner of presenting research, then the Jan van Eyck Academie might offer an alternative. An alternative approach to research and production would mostly be about being prepared to consider the specific character of each discipline (fine art, design, theory) and the particular concerns of each research project (and thus the individual objectives of respective designers, artists and theoreticians) as far as possible.

Koen Brams, psycholinguist, Director of the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (2000-11), Editor-in-Chief of the Belgian art magazine De Witte Raaf (1991-2000), editor of Encyclopedia of Fictional Artists, 1605 –Today (Eichborn Verlag, 2002).

Janwillem Schrofer:
Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten—More Than a Residency

The Rijksakademie grants 60 resident artists from around the world the opportunity to spend time on research, a project or artistic production. Artists are given their own studio, a stipend and the chance to begin a dialogue with other visiting artists, art critics, curators and other advisors. Besides extensive technical workshops and support, facilities include a library, artists’ documentation and art collections. Concentration on production and reflection are central to the residency. Rather than pursue standard methods, or focus on a prevailing stylistic approach or ideology, the Rijksakademie offers critical artistic, technical and theoretical support. The Rijksakademie uniquely blends features of artists’ residencies with those of research centers at the highest international level. (Text: Janwillem Schrofer)

Janwillem Schrofer, organizational sociologist, 1982–2010 President of the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam, advisor to many artists, artists platforms (rain network), art institutions and cultural programs at home and abroad.

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