Discoveries

Calling all artists

Ekaterina Wagner

09 January, 2022

From the centre of Moscow to the Yakutian permafrost, new artist residencies are opening up all over Russia, offering artists from around the world the chance to discover the nation’s hidden natural and cultural treasures.

Artist residencies proliferate in Russia nowadays, despite the global uncertainty and limitations on international travel, caused by the pandemic. We have put together a list of newcomers to the scene. Some are privately funded, others depend on government grants, some have their own spaces with living quarters and studios, while others don’t have a permanent venue at all. The choice is wide, from ambitious projects backed by Russia’s richest oligarchs to a modest guest room in a local artist’s dacha.

The newly founded MaxArt foundation has opened a residency called ‘rhIZOme’ in Moscow, in a recently renovated space with four-metre-high ceilings and enormous windows. It is divided into five studios, four of them are designed for local artists, while the fifth one has its own kitchen and shower and can house a visiting artist. The artists are chosen via open calls announced twice a year and the winners are invited to work for five months in the studios. The foundation gives a grant of 150,000 rubles (approx. 2,000 US dollars) to each artist to cover their project funding and personal expenses and it organises networking events and even philosophy lectures on the premises.

The Peredelkino House of Writers is located in a pretty neighbourhood filled with writers’ dachas on the outskirts of Moscow. It is mostly focused on literature, yet artists working on cross-disciplinary projects and text-based art are also welcome. The residency is funded by oligarch Roman Abramovich who, himself, owns a dacha nearby. The accommodation in a newly renovated 1980s building (built for members of a Soviet Writer’s Union, who used to go there for “creative vacations”) is on a par with a five-star hotel, yet there is no studio space to speak of. There is no monthly allowance for residents, although free meals are served three times a day in an onsite restaurant. Typically, an individual residency lasts for three weeks. Two or three times per year, there are shorter cross-disciplinary thematic residencies, where visual and performance art practitioners can apply, as well as writers.

For those seeking a more intimate ambiance, there is a horizontal initiative by the artist duo ‘Pomidor’ (‘Tomato’). Young artists Polina Egorushkina (b. 1983) and Maria Sarkisyants (b. 1981), members of an informal art collective behind the artist-run Bomba gallery, came up with the idea of opening a “home residency” in the Sarkisyants’ home in Martemyanovo, a village 30 kilometres from Moscow. The residency hosts one artist at a time in a studio with a separate entrance. The host’s family offers free accommodation, meals and will pick residents up from the local railway station. They welcome mid-career artists and art experts. “We want to create a space outside institutions, where artists and experts can communicate with one another,” say the founders.

AyarKut, a private contemporary art foundation, is luring artists to Russia’s coldest region, Yakutia (Sakha). The initiative was launched by Arsen Tomsky, a local businessman and founder of inDriver, an IT company with headquarters in California. Three thematic residencies, for two artists or art collectives each, are offered per year. They are aimed at creatives interested in the local context and unabashed by the region’s harsh climate (temperatures can sink to -45 degrees Celsius in winter in Yakutsk, the capital of Sakha). In 2022, the subjects for the open calls are sound art, ecology and the indigenous culture of the Yakuts. Each residency lasts from six to eight weeks. The foundation offers artists accommodation in the centre of Yakutsk, a shared studio space for work, reimbursement of plane tickets, a monthly allowance and funding for their project (300,000 rubles or almost 4,000 US dollars).

Another new residency in the Russian north called ‘Tersky Bereg’ is, in fact, more like a lab, where artists are invited to spend ten days in a remote Umba village on the picturesque Kolsky Peninsula in the Murmansk region. Before starting to work on their projects, they tour neighbouring villages and give master classes to the locals. The first edition was funded by grants and donations, so its future is yet unclear.

Where to apply?

rhIZOme

Peredelkino

Pomidor (Bomba gallery)

AyarKut

Tersky Bereg

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