We understood that compared to the initial situation of all applicants, the invitation to curate this call without the certainty that the effort would ultimately pay off for the artists involved, put us as the jurors of the call that received an agreed fee in a privileged position. From the initial stages, we wanted to focus on the extremely low fee per residency of 750 euros as via the format of the call. As a group that works individually and collectively on curatorial projects, depending on the type of funding, we are aware of the constraints in the field of digital art due to a scarcity of resources available for artists working in this field. It was both challenging and fun for us to spend almost a year discussing how to construct »fairer« and artist-oriented web residency call that could be shaped within Digital Solitude’s institutional structures as well as construct a format to challenge current processes of residency selections and introduce a more transparent jury process. We tried to apply our core aims in queering and hacking (institutional) structures in this project.
Whether we succeeded in creating a more just structure is questionable in the process. We have been confronted with the fact that one possible outcome of an experiment and a challenge is always failure.
The unpleasant part of the call and the selection process
The timeline had to be adjusted several times, the chosen independent platform programmed, and the »curated by artists mode« didn’t have all the features we needed to run the process smoothly. There were so many applications that our idea that everyone who submits something has to vote didn’t work. In the end, the process pushed the limits of what was institutionally feasible. It was a successful hack of the system on our part, but mainly on the backs of the applying artists.
The beauty of the call and the selection process
Queer, BIPoC, and feminist artists* from all over the world submitted countless impressive proposals in response to the theme »Resting! Undesired by the Market.« Due to the overwhelming number of applications, we understood that the call hit a nerve with the theme of resting. During the collective online event we were able to engage in a critical and honest exchange with the artists on the themes of justice, competitive opportunity formats, and institutional violence and power structures. There was extensive criticism and withdrawn applications. We also understand negative feedback as care work and value it. There were also new questions and suggestions that we had not yet thought of. All of this stems from the new and broader encounters from different positions we find ourselves in. We collectively do not yet have answers to many of these questions and confrontations, but appreciate the invitation to learn from them and to work continuously on the practice of accountability.
In the end, as a collective, we needed a break from the project to pause and reflect.
We are richer for an experience of how artistic selection processes could work in a utopian way, but we still don’t know how to really override the institutional and hierarchical mechanisms that we always criticize once we become part of them ourselves. Whether our idea of collective voting has been the better one in the end also remains an open question for us.
Out of 239 applications, four residency proposals were selected by a collective voting process carried out on the Bindles platform inviting those who submitted proposals to vote on a scale for the projects who should receive the residency. dgtl fmnsm would like to additionally acknowledge that all applicants are deserving of the residency and to take a pause from a troubled world.
The selected residency artists and projects are:
by Mia Imani Harrison, Portland/USA.
by Okwei Odili, Lagos/Nigeria
by Lorin Sookool, South Africa
COMMUNITY CARE DAY(S)
by Thùy Trang Nguyễn and Akiko Soyja, Berlin/Germany
All four projects focus not on a singular work, but on the question of rest, breaks, and community. Mia Imani Harrison from Portland proposes the question: who is allowed to dream at all, to be utopian, to regenerate? Okwei Odili, a musician and artist living in Nigeria and Brazil, will accompany queer activists* from Nigeria in their relaxation routines and visually document these intimate moments in her project, Freedom Time. At the same time, the money from the residency stipend will be allocated to the activists in these activities. Thùy Trang Nguyễn and akiko soyja from Berlin will focus on the politics of the body and will further develop the idea of COMMUNITY CARE DAY(S) for QTIBIPOC. Lorin Sookool is a dancer, artist, and mother and will use the fee of the residency to pay her rent and thus be able to spend quality time with her child and her queer house community.