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Online Artist Residency [November 2020]

There is a strange and unexpected hole that can appear after an intense course of study in contemporary art. The risk of unbalancing increases with the current loss of physical proximity. What crafty devices can we use to propel the onward journey and prevent ourselves from falling? How can participatory, physical and tactile practices be re-encountered in the light of corporeal separation and digital mediation?

A year ago Sally Stenton was embarking on an MRes at RCA and Svetlana Atlavina had just completed an MA at Cambridge School of Art. At that time it was Svetlana who was losing her foothold and Sally grabbed her hand and pulled gently to steady her. This year, as Sally completed her studies and the ground became more unstable, there was a need for proactive scenarios. Within 4 weeks they had envisioned and activated A Glass Envelope online artist residency, opening up to other people who might have a similar vertigo. The internet facilitates an immediate replication of something that would have taken a year to achieve as a physical residency. In contrast to this acceleration, qualities of slowness, quiet listening and receptivity populated the newly created virtual space.

A Glass Envelope (AGE) is a three weeks international residency. It seeks to replicate, in a playful way, the space and conditions that make artist residencies conducive to art practice. In this acting out, it has reached beyond imitation of the conventional idea of a residency and found alternative ways to overcome blocks and traverse distances. We span 12,448 km from India to Indiana, US, with a time difference of 11.5 hours. Day and night occur simultaneously and our 2 dimensional screens feed live evidence of our multi-dimensional earth. We find connection through the collective creation of physical objects, the facilitation of parallel sensory experiences, movement of our bodies together and playful attempts to tunnel between our online cells.

Voices from Zoom might be like hearing people from a distance or behind walls, so near and yet so far. Whilst we grapple with the frustration of not being physically together, the breaks in internet connections and the competing demands of home and work, the residency has put in place gentle structures that have enabled powerful, supportive bonds to form. Words emerge and overlay on the digital whiteboard:

prompts | collaborative exchange | new experience | physical evidence around our studios | gifting | a routine | structure | companionship | accountability | sensitivity | acceptance | the gift of time | use of space in different ways | recognition and validation | drawing mediation | framework and flexibility | safety | plurality | spooky action at a distance

At the time of writing the three weeks residency is coming to an end. Each day a blog has been written and images posted. We share our alchemical experience via this link to A Glass Envelope.

Contributors: Pragya Bhargava, Sarah Praill, Svetlana Atlavina, Ceyda Oskay,Ean Nicole Konopnicki, Sally Stenton, Sylwia Dylewska.