Artist residencies A cultural landmark

The White Rabbit
The White Rabbit | Photo: © Uwe Jonas bangaloREsident@1 Shanthi Road 2014

For German artists seeking to discover and create in India, to integrate the myriad subtle and not-so-subtle nuances of Indian culture into their own arts practice, the bangaloREsidency offers the ideal opportunity.

A gigantic white rabbit squatting under the flyover near the bustling Richmond Circle. Did someone lose a favourite stuffed toy? A couple of weeks later it’s vanished… and thereby hangs a tale. [Uwe Jonas bangaloREsident@1 Shanthi Road 2014]

It all began a decade ago during a strategic discussion between Dr. Evelin Hust, then Director of the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore and Suresh Jayaram who had recently set up 1 Shanthi Road, a Studio/Gallery and Artists Collective. Just one German artist took up residence at the Studio that year, but there was no looking back. 1 Shanthi Road is our oldest and most sought-after residency partner.

Next on board was Jaaga, the inimitably nomadic artists’ collective run by Archana Prasad. Already the movement was away from the conventional. At Jaaga our artist-in-residence may not be certain of where he or she would spend the night but h was always assured of a unique ambience, entirely conducive to creative thinking.
Bangalore’s premier art academy Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology is always on a high energy quest for expertise and input from outside, as well as offering an incubator environment for original thinking.

And the list keeps growing. We approached a few, but an equal number approached us with the request “we want a resident too”! What was undeniably attractive was the fact that talented professionals in all fields engaged in a unique give-and-take with the local art community – and the general public – and left behind a legacy in the form of an art project, installation, publication, the perspective of someone briefly but securely embedded in the reality of the City.

Cross the road like a cow, deliberate, grounded, slow and graceful… wisdom for a visitor from “Bangalore A – Z”. [Anja Lutz bangaloREsident@Jaaga 2014]

The nature of these collaborations altered substantially the profile of the Institute in the eyes of Bangaloreans. When the most important cultural partners in the City were asked whether they would prefer a run-of-the-mill lecture by an eminent Professor on the lines of “Latest trends in German Video Art” for instance… OR a longer, more in-depth exchange with a young German artist, working on mutually interesting artistic projects and keen on gaining an insight into arts practice in India, the answer was all but unanimous. Bangalore took the residency to heart and this acceptance was embodied in the brand created in 2013: bangaloREsidency, where city and residency are inevitably interlinked.

How it works:

  • Open call for applications: Closes 3 months before start date
  • Selection: In close consultation with hosts
  • Arrival: Mandatory arrival on the same day, preferably on the same flight
We organise: 
  • Orientation tours to the primary cultural watering holes in the City
  • Public presentation of previous works/proposed project by the bangaloREsidents themselves
  • Working phase: Together with the hosts (4-12 weeks)
  • Final presentation: Outcome of the (e.g. exhibition or “open studio“)
They get:  
  • Economy return airfare from Germany to Bangalore
  • Accommodation (in collaboration with the hosts)
  • Daily stipend of Rs. 1000
  • Production support (approved budget only)
Family matters! Stilted old-fashioned portraits of joint families, and the strangest facts come to light. A family of 25 living together with several cars but just one bank account? [Nora Bibel bangaloREsident@1 Shanthi Road 2014]

The bangaloREsidency has become a cultural landmark in the City – the synergy is sustained and two-way - also within the alumni group. Thus two former bangaloREsidents welcome Bangalore artists in Germany and together they curate a project, in one case, coincidentally at the art space of yet another bangaloREsident…. Some bangaloREsidents come back to realise an off-shoot of their original project.  Four bangaloREsidents@Pepper House returned to display their work as a collateral event at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014.

There have been two large gatherings and several little ones in Germany, where former bangaloREsidents get together to renew acquaintance, forge fresh bonds, experience artistic projects by their colleagues or just meet and chill with visitors from Bangalore – the Goethe Team, hosts, fellow artists, friends…

The artist interprets your favourite place in the City through the lens, but also with different eyes, and sometimes unexpected results. “Unlocking the City” throws up powerful, memorable visuals… [Anja Bohnhof bangaloREsident@1 Shanthi Road 2013]

Versatile and diverse, the bangaloREsidency caters to host organisations with agendas as far-flung as sanitation, as well as the more familiar public art, urban issues, performance and installation. Matchmaking is the exercise of creating a good fit between artist and host, although this means that the bangaloREsident doesn’t necessarily get into the residency he or she has selected. The profiles of the artists are equally varied. From internationally well-known, experienced artists to young and emerging talent in visual/performance/installation art, dance, gender, urbanism, film, theatre, literature, new media, architecture, photography, music, art meets science, and public space

Pick up some fancy embroidered earrings from a set of blushing ladies from Silk City Ramanagaram. “Chamki Remix” at Rangoli Metro Art Centre on MG Road was a unique pop-up exhibition-cum-sale, cleverly weaving the graphic concept with local craft and skill. [Verena Gerlach bangaloREsident@Jaaga 2014]

The bangaloREsidency is impressive also in terms of sheer numbers - more than 60 bangaloREsidents and a growing list of hosts, 20 at last count. Thus far it has been in the main a Bangalore-centric project with the exception of the bangaloREsidency@Pepper House, which is run in collaboration with the Kochi Biennale Foundation and its Pepper House Residency.

The project continues to gain momentum and create excitement, with former bangaloREsidents themselves serving as the best brand ambassadors!