Even today, searching for new ways of public perception, representation and support encourages the mobility of artists and workers in cultural institutions. The Artists in Residence programmes play an important role in the careers of artists and workers in cultural institutions, support their international standing and also often cover their costs of living by form of scholarships. Artists' houses and residencies are therefore not only important spaces of free expression and social centres offering a productive work environment, where art practice is supported and where new projects are developed, but they also represent platforms for mediating and merging new cultural contexts, in which essential exchange of experience concerning the present development and tendencies takes place. Directly at the site of their residency, artists and workers in cultural institutions can simultaneously actualize their new and long-term impulses for the quality of life, attractiveness and development of the given city.
The provisional Studio Abroad /Atelier in der Fremde/ (cf. Glauser 2009, p. 75 et seq.) represents a significant stop in the nomadic practice of artists and workers in cultural institutions. The studio space is no longer necessarily tied to a specific place, it has become dynamic and flexible. The studio therefore symbolizes even the space for negotiation and a free field of action, where social roles and transcultural affiliations are strongly expressed including also the artistic self-reflection. Artists and workers in cultural institutions are constantly moving in diverse cultural environments and searching for space for work and manipulation in the social environment as well, whose impact exceeds the given place and specific localities. Artists and workers in cultural institutions are symbolic figures of mobility and of migratory movements of our present. Today, the studio is a situation, in which global developmental tendencies meet local specificities. Artists' houses and programmes of the Artists in Residence project represent its vital framework (cf. Doherty 2009; Welsch 1999, pp. 194-213; Bhabha 2000).
Since 2013, Goethe-Institut has been supporting the international programme of the Meetfactory art centre in the form of residencies focusing on cultural practice. Not only artist, but also curators, critics and practitioners in cultural institutions from Germany are invited to Prague. In autumn 2015, this cooperation with Meetfactory experienced a further development of decisive importance by launching the experimental residence format Critical Studio.
MeetFactory is trying to inspect the background of an international studio house and by means of the Critical Studio project it is creating a unique constellation of collective cooperation and thinking about the phenomenon of mobility and migration as a cultural and historical practice. Its starting point is the question to what extent the residency programmes, temporary stays abroad and professional trips influence art and creative processes, practices and commonplace occurrences as well as the global development in art and in the society in general.
Critical Studio is launching a communication platform of a new kind, creating an international residency community in the environs of an artists' house, which stems from the aspirations of the artists and workers in cultural institutions themselves and which supports the discussion in art project activities and in practical development.
The studio community of the Critical Studio explores the motivation behind this nomadic practice and the residency as a form of existence and provides various aspects of art processes concerning mobility in the context of global and transcultural migratory movements. What is the available potential, possibilities and challenges for artists, workers in cultural institutions and for the society? What political presumptions support the art confrontations in dynamic constellations and transitory states? What synergies, transboundary networks and what alliances, what forms of collective cooperation, communities and scenarios can be set up in relation to the given situation and function in the long-term horizon? What relationships and interactions with changing spaces open to manipulation and locally specified public can come into being and mutually enrich each other in the long term?
The Critical Studio perceives itself as an open forum and is purposefully connected to the scenes and discussion at a given site. The working community is regularly accompanied by local experts and participants from the areas of art, culture, development and politics. Since its very beginning, the Critical Studio has been sharing its work and thought processes with the public and developing strategies of active cooperation. Within the scope of various programmes and open studies, the scientific discoveries and thoughts obtained through research are presented during art events, interventions, performances and dialogues and are offered as a topic for discussion.
THIS RED DOOR, Jomar Statkun a Nadja Frank, New York City (USA), www.thisreddoor.com/
Naomi Fitzsimmons, London (UK), www.naomifitzsimmons.com/
Jens Heitjohann, Berlin (Germany), www.jensheitjohann.de/
Rafael Vogel, Weimar/Leipzig (Germany), www.soundcloud.com/leafarlegov
The curator of the Critical Studio project is Zuzana Jakalová, the director of the programme Artists in Residence in Meetfactory, in cooperation with Christine Rahn.
Critical Studio is a project organized cooperatively by the MeetFactory art centre in Prague and The Centre for Art and Urbanism ZK/U in Berlin, Germany (http://www.zku-berlin.org/).