Sun, Dec 14, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Home away from home for artists

The Triangle Arts workshop at the Ping Grove Center in Hualien is taking a fresh look at artists' residencies

By Vico Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mohamed Shoukry uses the images of other participants at the Triangle Arts workshop in this video installation.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MOHAMED SHOUKRY

Artist villages and artist residency programs have gradually taken root across Taiwan in and the much-stressed interaction with local communities has become a major function of artist villages.

The Triangle Arts workshop, which ended Nov. 30 in the Pine Grove Center (松園別館) in Hualien, took the opposite approach and encouraged the artists to focus on their work instead of holding exhibitions.

The first such program in Taiwan enriched the creative lives of the artists immensely and the four who remained after the program finished in Hualien are now at Taipei Artist Village in Taiwan (台北國際藝術村). They shared their experiences of the workshop before the opening of their exhibition this weekend.

"The workshop was not about what works, you do, but instead the process of working. You meet artists from other countries. They may do a lot of work but it wasn't for an exhibition," said Gargi Raina, a painter from India.

Like other participants in the workshop, Raina was selected by her home country as a professional, but not big-name artist, in the middle of her career. Artists working in performance art, film, photography and poetry were also invited to the workshop.

What Raina benefited from most was the presentations held every evening, in which the artists introduced what they did in the past with slides or videos to get to know each other. At the same time, they discussed their current projects and received advice from each other. This form of exchange, Raina said, was the major difference of the workshop and what made it so helpful to her work.

Triangle Arts Trust, a UK charity and co-organizer of the workshop, has held mmore than 90 workshops in some 30 countries in the past 20 years. Established Taiwanese artists have also participated in its workshops in Africa.

Twelve artists from different countries and 12 from Taiwan spent two weeks in the idyllic Pine Grove by the Pacific Ocean.

"You don't just do your work in your isolated space. Here [at the Taipei Artist Village], we don't know what other [residential] artists are doing. In Hualien, we see and talk about each other's works. It's like we were working as a group," said Raina, adding that it is the best way toward understanding. "You only know a work when you see it from beginning to end."

Making another contrast with the Taipei Artist Village, Raina found that living with Taiwanese artists in Hualien helped her understand Taiwan better.

"Our inspiration mainly comes from other artists. Through artists from Taiwan, we made contact with the place," said Mohamed Shoukry, a video artist from Egypt.

"If I had come here in a residency program, I would be working in my own studio, but I can do that in my own place. In the workshop I learn new ways of working and new ideas from everyone, especially from Taiwanese artists," said Shepherd Nduzo, a Botswanan sculptor in his second Triangle Arts workshop.

The greatest gain from the workshop for Bangladeshi installation artist Imran Hossain Piplu, who was Nduzo's roommate at the workshop, is friendship with others. "If it was not for this workshop, I wouldn't have made friends with them," said Piplu, looking at the other three artists next to him. "I would only know them by name."

In the past week, Raina made only one acquaintance in Taipei Artist Village. There was more of a distance between artists, which the four had not become used to. "If you go into their rooms, it's more like intruding on their privacy," she said. Being secluded in a seaside residence also strengthens the ties between artists, which propelled Raina to create, she said.

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