Residency Unlimited

Embedded Aesthetics: Artist-in-Residencies as Sites of Discursive Struggle and Social Innovation

Work by Edmonton’s City Hall first resident artist Jennie Vegt. Courtesy of Seismopolite


AiRs exist in hundreds if not thousands of different configurations all over the world, in over 100 countries in every kind of arts discipline and are hosted and organized by many different kinds of organizations. They offer a wide range of opportunities and impose a diverse range of demands and obligations. Dr Michael Lithgow and Dr Karen Wall from Athabasca University (Canada) focused their interest in the operation of AiRs as an assemblage of values, expectations, materials, goals, practices and conventions that create, arrange and conduct desire within an institutional setting. Their findings suggest that a time-limited residency may open space for new ideas, practices and voices, but may be limited as to any structural changes that might challenge neoliberal urbanism and existing socio-economic problems. Part of the difficulty is in evaluating the long term impact of productive friction in contrast to the many ways institutional legitimacy and authority will strive to reassert itself.

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