Bella Kerr & Amanda Roderick
Curatorial Residency at Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn New York: October/November 2016
How are location, site and architecture important when defining a gallery/other space and its artistic philosophy? For galleries/other, what are the connections to the city and wider community? How does partnership work and feed into an organisation’s programming and strategy? How do the smaller galleries, grass roots organisations, studio groups and collectives, work alongside each other in collaboration with the larger established venues? Are genuine creative partnership formed to the benefit of each organisation and the artists/others involved?
Our investigations were be made in the context of; Mission Gallery, its exhibition, residency and participation programme, plus on-going plans for capital redevelopment and also CIVIC. This project/exhibition was initiated and originally based at Mission Gallery in Spring 2014, curated by Bella Kerr, and developed in dialogue with Amanda Roderick alongside artists and architects based in Swansea, Wales and beyond.
The residency and research project had a number of facets;
i) to meet and speak with a range of people and organisations with the aim of understanding organisational structures, partnerships, funding and artistic and curatorial direction
ii) to make on-going connections with artists, curators and organisations with a view to future projects including CIVIC, Jane Phillips Award Residencies and others.
iii) to develop our personal curatorial and artistic ambitions.
We arranged beforehand and whilst we were there with the support of RU, many meetings to discuss all the questions and issues outlined above. The short conversations were documented through note taking and gathering and making of visual material towards a ‘map’ of ideas, connections and possibilities for future. It was very much intended as an exploratory residency – not conclusive but an open-ended investigation. A series of questions that may or may not be answered, which may grow into a group or network of people interested in the city/space/architecture/gallery as dynamic space.
The residency returned to the ideas examined in CIVIC, of both the gallery and city as dynamic, imaginative learning spaces; and conversation and collaboration as means for examining these issues and developing responses. This has previously uncovered all sorts of ideas, the process of connecting being recognised as valuable in itself and worth further consideration. Rather than it evolve into an exhibition, for this residency, it was the time/space to physically and visually collate documentation. Workshops and talks are a great way to focus this aspect and gave it specific time limit to install, consider and remove.
The month long collaborative curatorial residency was a busy and successful period, a fantastic experience and opportunity. Many valuable connections were made through the networks and guidance of RU with whom we have continued a strong partnership, which we hope to follow up in 2018. It occurred at a key time for us as individuals, for the gallery and the organisations we are in dialogue with. Also for Swansea, as we are both actively engaged in the cultural development of the city.
“…the cross pollination, co-existence and collaboration of/in cities…” – Rebecca Solnit, Non Stop Metropolis. Book Reading, October 2016, Rizzoli Book Store, Broadway, NYC
“I realise it’s unusual for an artist to want to work way up near the roof of a big hotel, in the heart of a roaring city but I think that’s just what the artist of today needs… Today the city is something bigger, grander, more complex than ever… There is meaning in its strong warm grip we are all trying to grasp. And nothing can be gained by running away.”
– Georgia O’Keefe, interview (1928) quoted in The City and the Rise of the Modern Woman 1900-1945, exhibition from the collection at Brooklyn Museum, November 2016