This brief report outlines the role played by Res Artis in the planning and execution of Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean - Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity, a gathering of thirty plus organizations and individuals invested in the coherence of the cultural sector in the Caribbean held in Barbados at Fresh Milk, one of our member residencies. What follows is a brief overview of the rationale of Res Artis’ involvement in the meeting and its future role in helping to develop Tilting Axis as a platform that will carry on the work defined as a priority during our meeting.
Our work with Fresh Milk began a couple of years ago when we approached them to collaborate on our project of comprehensibly mapping the world of residencies. We have partnered with several entities around the world that have already engaged in this kind of project, often focusing on specific regions. In this case, Fresh Milk had already produced a sophisticated map listing arts organizations in the Caribbean.
Another project that attracted us to work with Fresh Milk was Tilting Axis, an effort to bring together many of the organizations in the region that have not met together before for a variety of reasons. Most of these reasons, such as linguistic differences and transportation impediments, have to do with the legacy of colonialism in the region. Thus, the idea to bring together representatives from the Dutch, French, Spanish, and English cultural sectors within the region presented intense challenges, but for these same reasons was made the main objective of the Tilting Axis project.
When discussing the possibility of involvement by Res Artis in this effort, it was obvious that we could assist by not only inviting our members from within the region but also those organizations outside the region either already working with Caribbean organizations or those wanting to develop relationships there.
Res Artis Members’ Participation
While we put out several calls for participation, response from our members to participate in the event was not what we anticipated. It’s not clear why that was, except that there may not have been an obvious connection for many of our members. The Res Artis members that did participate included: Fresh Milk, Videobrasil, and China Residencies. There were some organizations present that were previous members but have let their membership lapse.
Despite this, the engagement from those in attendance was robust. Videobrasil, for example, has been involved with Fresh Milk for some time and the participation of Solange Farkas, its founding director, not only reinforced that relationship but also opened the possibility for more collaboration across the Caribbean. This is a region that Videobrasil has not engaged in-depth in the past, despite its focus on south-south relationships.
China Residencies, a network of residencies in China; was represented by Kira Simon-Kennedy, its co-founder and program manager. Her participation in the gathering was fruitful in many ways. She provided perspectives on her network’s activities in China, including mapping the variety of models for residencies developing in this vast part of the world. She was also able to begin negotiations for establishing several exchanges between members of her network and cultural organizations in the Caribbean.
As far as Res Artis is concerned the meeting was a complete success. Our aim was to have a membership engage with the cultural sector in the Caribbean in order to promote mobility and cultural exchange, both within the region and beyond. This was accomplished in a variety of ways. There were excellent opportunities to learn more about the challenges and benefits of working with organizations in the region. We learned that there is much to be done to cohere the region beyond its linguistic barriers. At the same time, this diversity is a great advantage when engaging with other cultural organizations around the globe. It was clear that studying the region and building these relationships is an ongoing process. The Tilting Axis platform is an ideal means of achieving this and Res Artis looks forward to helping to continue develop it.
To this end, the platform identified three areas of activity: education, programming/exhibitions, and artist mobility. The latter focus on issues of mobility is the obvious concern taken up by Res Artis. Our organization will continue to identify possibilities to further mobility with and within the region as part of the Tilting Axis endeavour. Part of these efforts involve assisting with planning for the next meeting of this interest group, which is being hosted by the Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2016.
We look forward to increasing our engagement with the Caribbean through our participation in Tilting Axis.