In our last installment about Red Gate Gallery's residency program, we sat down with Nina, the residency coordinator.
China Residencies: In your role as residency coordinator, what is your main responsibility?
Nina: I help the artists figure out how to get around in Beijing, and help them accomplish their projects.
CR: What's the most important aspect of an artist residency in China?
N: I think the most important thing for residencies is to engage in the community. If artist only stay in their studios without engaging in other activities, then it doesn't make sense them to leave home to come to a whole new environment. I think it's great that Red Gate invites artists to openings and activities, and we also organize the exchange activities between foreign and local artists. I think we should do more in this aspect for Chinese artists, we should break down the wall, let them communicate more. We don't have to be afraid of the language barrier, translators are easily found.
CR: Tell us a bit more about opportunities for exchange.
N: Chinese artists love to have foreign artists visit them, it is an opportunity to experience something new. Even if they don't speak the language, art is a kind of language -- you can just use the art to communicate rather than using your spoken language.
CR: What would you like to see more of at Red Gate and at residencies in China in general?
N: I would be nice if the program was a little bit more diverse. For now, from my experience, most of the artists here are from Australia and America. I do wish for more artists coming from Asia, Africa, Europe, that will make this program even more international and interesting. We're starting to seek partnerships with new countries through collaboration with embassies or institutions, so hopefully the program's diversity will keep growing.
CR: What is the ideal duration of a residency?
N: Short stays and long stays are both good. For short stays, it will be fresh for both parties. For artists who have been to China before, if it is a long relationship, then they will have more experience for the second time. They might already have a network here in Beijing, so on the second trip they can make best of it.
I think 2 or 3 months is the best choice. If you really have a very in-depth project, for example a documentary, maybe 6 months is better. In any case, one month is certainly too short, because you need two weeks to figure out what's going on!
This interview was conducted in Beijing by Crystal Ruth Bell & Kira Simon-Kennedy for China Residencies.