The Project / PARTICIPANTS
The artists are invited to develop their own creative processes based on initial open projects that will be altered, to some extent, through interaction with the specific context in which they are to be developed. The teams of mediators are those that invite artists to join IN RESIDENCE. The criteria for proposing artists for the programme are based on a series of variables:
- They should be firmly-established artists.
- Their practices and productions should be capable of generating discussion and establishing connections with the other participants.
- They should be both assertive and empathic by nature, and capable of adapting to a context outside their usual working environment.
- They do not necessarily have to be art teachers, although those invited are often artists with links to the world of training and education.
From the initial definition onwards, the emphasis is very much on the need for the project to be the artist's own work, something that part of their trajectory. The working process, moreover, should not take the format of a workshop or art class; the aim is not to teach what contemporary art is, but to enable the participants (pupils, teachers, mediators...) to experience all the processes that have to do with creativity: from the concept stage to production and public presentation, as well as the research, test, documentation and project stages... To this end, the artists are asked to make certain displacements in their usual creative practices and processes: physical displacement, since the process does not take place in their usual place of work (studio, workshop, art factory...), but in a classroom at a state secondary school; and “political” displacement, since IN RESIDENCE requires them to take part in a process in which, although their authorship is not questioned, they need to establish dialogues, negotiation, and, in short, to accept a degree of participation in their work both by pupils and teachers and mediators. Depending on the artist's usual working routine and their view of artistic practices, this dialogue with other parties will lead to the introduction of processes that are closer to (or farther away from) collaborative approaches.
IN RESIDENCE assigns pupils an active role to play as subjects in the creative process. In their dialogue with the artist and the teacher, moreover, they should also take part actively in all processes. Because the residence enables them to discover creativity as part of an open process, to play roles different from those they are accustomed to, and to take part in all stages in the creative process, from initial idea to final presentation. IN RESIDENCE enables participants to develop different dimensions and aspects of themselves and to learn about the cultural system thanks to the connections that are established during the project period.
Since the programme was first launched, the participants have always been ESO compulsory secondary education pupils at state schools in Barcelona. These are, therefore, children aged from 12 to 16 years. Although pupils from all four ESO courses have taken part, most participants are groups in the fourth course, due to the organisational advantages, as many schools reserve their optional studies for this fourth year. We should remember that, apart from occasional exceptions, the project does not involve whole classes, but groups of 15-20 pupils. As a result, it is necessary to adjust timetables for the course in order to free up the weekly two-hour session with the artist and the second one-hour session.
Teachers play a key role: they help to adapt the residency to the learning made by the group of pupils; they link the project to material and content, both in their own subjects and others; they talk to the artist to find ways of making these connections; they link the residency to the school, helping to form alliances and partnerships that enable the former to “contaminate” the latter; they encourage transformations in the ways that contemporary art is seen at the school; they manage the “follow-up” to the residency, and so on.
IN RESIDENCE necessarily requires the participation of a teacher as a reference point in the project. However, it is also recommended that this teacher should be accompanied, on a stable basis, by one or two teachers of other subjects. Although they play a secondary role, these colleagues can also make an important contribution to the full development of the residency. Firstly, they reinforce the specific project in their different areas and specialities; and, secondly, they help the whole school to become more involved in the initiative. We should remember that the residency is not designed as an experience restricted to the group of pupils directly involved; rather, it should “contaminate” the entire school and help to open up a process aimed at transforming the school's way of going about things.
The interdisciplinary nature of the project enables teachers from any knowledge area to take part. Accordingly, the reference teacher for the residency is not always from the art department. Very often, residencies have been led by teachers of technology, music, social sciences, Catalan, Spanish and natural sciences.
The residencies are coordinated by teams of mediators, experts in the intersections between culture and education. Their role in the development of the programme is one of the features that help to make IN RESIDENCE a unique experience. Their duties, divided into two broad categories ("curatorial” and “coordinating"), are concerned with overall management of each residency in all its complexity. Accordingly, they manage the process in its different dimensions (artistic, educational, relational, productive). In short, the mediation teams work to ensure that the residency develops fully, establishing balances between the different factors at play (process/work; art project/educational dimension; authorship/participation) and contributing to the smooth development of the various interactions at play: artist/pupils, artist/teacher, classroom/school. Among their most important tasks is that of facilitating the connections that each residency, as the project gradually becomes defined, should establish with other stakeholders (cultural centres in the neighbourhood or city, professionals, guests, cultural projects etc.). Mediators also play a role in communicating and raising the profile of the residency.
When the programme was initially designed, it was decided to assign a “curatorial” role to mediators. In fact, the mediators are those that the participating artists propose to ICUB and the CEB, and they are, therefore, responsible for the art project suggested. Moreover, their “curatorial” role does not end here as, throughout the process, they engage in continuous dialogue with the artist about the project as it develops. At the start, they approve (or propose changes to) the initial project and, as the residency advances, they work to ensure that the direction given to it by the artist fits well into the context and the educational goals for the project. In cooperation with the artist, teachers and pupils, moreover, they also establish the content of all texts (posters, exhibition materials, publications, communications, etc.) relating to the residency and, particularly, the works that result from the initiative.
That is why the expertise and know-how required of mediators also includes a general skill that we can summarise as “familiarity with the cultural system (and, particularly, the art system) and the education system". This knowledge should be combined with more specific skills and abilities that can help to develop an art project within the school environment.
TIES AND STRUCTURALS CONNECTIONS:
The task of connecting the cultural and education systems - a defining feature of the IN RESIDENCE initiative - is made possible by various models of connection that have been tried and tested since the launch of the programme. Firstly, there are the specific connections established between each residency and its environment (territorial, thematic, sectorial, professional, etc.) according to the particular project and its specific context. This connection may be more or less intense depending on a series of variables, and can range from the visit to the connected school or centre to coproduction (exhibition, venue for public presentation, etc.), including a full range of possibilities.
Secondly, since its third edition, IN RESIDENCE has established structural connections with the MACBA educational team. Within this framework, and according to the project undertaken as part of each residency, the MACBA team, in cooperation with the artist, prepares a visit to the museum especially adapted to the characteristics of the group of pupils and the process they are taking part in. This first visit may be followed by a follow-up visit by the MACBA educational team to the pupils at the school, revisiting the activity and exploring in greater depth the themes and other aspects of the project in development.There are also important new developments in this ninth edition with regard to the structural connections of IN RESIDENCE and Barcelona’s cultural and artistic system. Firstly, the permanent inclusion of the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona (Barcelona Design Museum) will raise the profile of the design arts in the programme. Secondly, the link between IN RESIDENCE and the UNESCO Barcelona City of Literature programme will help to strengthen ties between literary creation and contemporary artistic practices.
These connections amplify and expand the project and help to promote the right to take part in cultural life and the construction of a culturally active citizenry. The pupils are strongly encouraged to appropriate the cultural system, and are invited to participate as active agents with reciprocal duties and responsibilities. These connections are considered to be amongst the most potentially transformative effects generated by IN RESIDENCE: most of the pupils (and teachers, in some cases) have few links with the city's cultural centres, stakeholders and events. And, vice versa, the cultural and art systems and the artists themselves, by their own admission, have only weak or non-existent links with the education system.
IN RESIDENCE is jointly managed generally by personnel from Barcelona Institute of Culture and the Barcelona Education Consortium. These managers are responsible for monitoring the overall project, shaping its objectives, opening up common ground and working spaces for different stakeholders, ensuring the continuity of the project and that the initiative is appropriately integrated into the different schools, extending connections, raising the profile of the programme, seeking funding for the initiative and organising the collective show after each.