The carpets carrying the full scale of culture projects, artistic ideas, new stories and inspiring collaborations have landed. The year 2 of the MagiC Carpets platform has been an exciting journey for 27 international artists, who worked with the local colleagues and communities in 25 residencies.
With our official multimedia documentary team Nanook, following the collaboration between 15 platform members, we have captured the moments of the MagiC Carpets year 2 edition.
We are inviting to join us for this magic journey across Europe:
Neringa Stoškutė, the project manager for MagiC Carpets, is talking about the impact of the implemented artistic projects and importance of the international culture collaborations.
The project involves artists from different countries who go to the residencies in partner organizations and work with the local artists. What do you think are the main challenges the artists face in the new social and cultural context? What is the most helpful when getting to know the local community in a short time and finding connections and common creative points?
Neringa Stoškutė: Nowadays, artists are no strangers to travelling as they participate in residencies, exhibitions and festivals abroad. Therefore, travel to the “unknown” lands with MagiC Carpets project is another adventure for them. By working with the local artists and local communities they get to know the local sociocultural context and its history. The main challenge for the artists is to understand the existing social structures and find a way to operate within them. This social and cultural analysis brings new perspectives and opportunities for their work. Usually, the curators or local artists become the main mediators between the international artists and local communities. Even though the language may seem a barrier at first, as often international artists and local communities speak a different language, with the help of common cultural activities, this barrier is broken. Culture is a unified language that all of us understand. A simple drawing can tell a complex story. Our histories and experiences are what unite us as people, and if we find a way to share them through artistic practice, we begin to understand one another through the language of culture.
Can you single out a few key problematic areas that participants in the last year’s residencies were working on?
Neringa Stoškutė: In the second year of MagiC Carpets project, the local communities that the curators and artists chose to work with were very diverse, including residents from a particular area, people of different interests, religion/beliefs, racial and ethnic origins, gender, migrants, disability and special needs. Alongside the main aims of triggering intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and integration of displaced people and refugees, an additional focus on intergenerational dialogue has appeared. This shows that the organisations participating in the MagiC Carpets project are not afraid to go outside their comfort zone and act upon some of the difficult and problematic issues existing in their societies. We believe that through the soft power of culture, story-telling and artistic practices of co-creation we can start to change the way people see strangers or “others”, open their minds to resist cultural amnesia and trigger critical thinking.
How do the communities accept artists? Do you know if community members and artists continue their communication after the residencies?
Neringa Stoškutė: The local communities welcome the international artists with open hands and hearts. They enjoy having artists working with them, exchanging stories and experiences as well as being part of meaningful and valuable projects. There are a number of examples of local communities keeping in touch with international artists after their residency has finished. For example, Germany-based Swiss artist Yves Mettler completed his MagiC Carpets residency in Rome, Italy. He worked with children from Laurentino district. For the project, the artist created a WhatsApp group to share information with the children and they still get in touch through it. Lithuanian artist Jelena Škulis completed her residency in Guimarães, Portugal. She worked with a group of elderly people living in Santa Casa de Miserecordia elderly home. Recently, the artist produced some postcards with the documentation of her project and sent these to the community to remind them of their time spent together.
How could you evaluate the second year of the project in general?
Neringa Stoškutė: Overall, the second year of MagiC Carpets project was even more successful in terms of partner collaboration, learning new skills, having a bigger and wider impact on the local level and bigger opportunities for the future scope of the project. Last year, many partners found opportunities for collaboration. For example, some partners decided to make direct artist exchanges between them. In addition, the opportunity for project managers and curator exchange between organisations was encouraged in order to deepen organisational links and sustain relationships beyond the project’s period. Some organisations even started working together to initiate new long-term international exchange and mobility projects. The feedback from the local communities was extremely positive. Participants reported that inclusion into the artistic residencies gave the community a sense of pride. They felt that someone was aware of what they have done in their lives and recognised its importance. In addition, some projects created access to unused social spaces, establishing a new vision for the inhabitants of the city, sparking interest into further initiatives of the same kind and creating a self-initiated process in inhabiting these spaces.
In today’s context, we know that the platform and partners face a number of challenges – what would you wish for yourself and your colleagues in your third year of residency?
Neringa Stoškutė: Due to the current situation and its impact on travelling and direct contact between people, together with project’s partners, we are working on maintaining the project activities. The focus this year has slightly shifted from international to local artists. In order to maintain the project’s activities, we propose for all partners to work with local artists and together with local communities to implement new socioculturally sensitive artworks, including drawings, sculpture, graphics, photography, film, installation, theatre, performance, sound and digital art, presented in public spaces. I hope that together we will discover hidden local talents and the enthusiasm and determination for our work with the local communities and their inclusion into cultural activities will continue the same as it has previously.
MagiC Carpets is a platform uniting 15 European partners from 15 different European Union and candidate countries and intended for travelling emerging artists to work in socially engaged and responsible art field (visual art, public art, community art, exhibitions, performances, documentary theatre, online art, etc) to research and to implement new productions together with local artists and local communities. MagiC Carpets is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union and Lithuanian Council for Culture. Coordinating Entity is Kaunas Biennial (Lithuania).
For more moments from the residencies please visit MagiC Carpets YouTube channel
For the upcoming news and further residencies please see www.magiccarpets.eu
Kaunas Biennial year 3 residencies will be featured on our social media platforms. Stay tuned!