BAG Art Camp (Days 5 & 6)

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Sunday mostly consisted of a trip to the Arboretum and was a good opportunity to relax and take a “field trip”!

Monday saw long discussions for most of the day as a group but before dinner a few of us were able to jot some thoughts down on paper – see images 1 to 4….

Inspired by zines we’ve seen like Yuck ‘n Yum, folded paper books and free distribution we began mind-mapping our responses to “Zines” – the benifits, options etc… source; collaboration; cheap production; expanding networks for and through distribution; subscriptions through crowd funding; manuals; black and white; social networks.

We also delved deeper into the topic of “Knowledge and Skills Exchange”, which is something many of us have been discussing over the past few days. We got quite a way into the issue of “Tips and Tricks for Funding and Low-Funded Projects”, which has particularly been interesting me here. It’s been good to listen to so many different approaches to creating work with little or no funding and a few of us have been talking about the benefits and excitement to be found in short-term, small-scale projects, as well as the importance of celebrating the death (and sometimes rebirth in another form!) of such projects.

And I’ve found so much inspiration from approaches people have shared that don’t require the heavy funding or space-orientated models,which I feel I see a lot of the time around me, including here in Bergen. People are taking a very light-footed approach….Tulle works with 12volts, Tita and Irwan create playful work in everyday, outdoor environments, Ylva runs a kind of talking space with her friend from a car, and so on. This isn’t to say I’m not hearing about alternative ways to find funding for work though. It’s been good to chat about the way a product or service in/based on your work can support production too. I feel I’ve been blinkered lately and now my view has just expanded dramatically!

In response to many of the conversations I been having with others about self-initiated practices, I’m creating drawings in 2 simple folded paper books. One is focused on the dangers or problems of this kind of way of working – overworking; funding barriers we encounter; a search for success in the form of your-name-lights etc, and the other acting as the antidote – sleep; eating; sitting and so on. A kind of handbook or guide duo that can be used in tandem perhaps. The image included above is just a quick photo of work in progress, so apologies for the poor composition and quality! Once finished, I’ll post a nice set of images of it…

In the evening we took a trip to a wonderful print studio, Trykkeriet, who create prints for artists, run professional, amature and children’s courses, and charge a small fee for artists who wish to print themselves. Just before those, I’ve also included some images of the walk we took from town up to the print studio to give a wider sense of Bergen than I have so far…

I have found myself feeling conflicted about my response to many of the initiatives we’ve visited here in  Bergen. On one hand, I’m impressed, inspired and somewhat envious of the incredibly high levels of funding that artists and artist-run initiatives (can) get here. And by the thoughtful and long-term approaches so many people are taking when they are planning – so often spaces have taken a year to find because the building has to provide longevity for those occupying it. Many of the spaces we’ve visited seem to be able to rely wholly on government funding of some kind (add to this that an MFA here is free, even to international students) and artists get good working grants which enable them to take a wage, materials budget etc etc for a year in order to focus on their practice. Even in comparison to the UK (since we are all from countries with such diverse approaches to supporting the arts financially) this seems incredible and so supportive!

On the other hand though, I am finding myself feeling a little frustrated by this. So many are weighty, space-bound projects which vary slightly from the established institutions around them but remind me of much of what I also see at home. I have felt more inspired by the flexible, small-scale projects I’ve seen and heard about and the low-output, high-input, or “less appliances, big impact”, attitudes that are particularly held within this group of 13 artists. There’s something in this about feeling ok that a practice may not be one that makes much money but can be about experience and resourced through collaboration, in-kind support, studio swaps and incredibly low budgets (and at the same time being aware that there are creative ways to engage in financing a practice!)…I’m left agreeing that perhaps just work and creativity can create success


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