To visit the Serlachius residency in Finland was a difficult trip. Due to the pandemic restrictions I had to quarantine for more than a week in Helsinki and Tampa. But reaching finally my destination it was worth the effort. Next to a lake and covered in freezing temperatures it turned out quite idyllic. What I had to find out the hard way was the distance between the studio and the apartment, a commute of 3km by bike and temperatures often below -20 degrees.
At the end of February I was able to hold an exhibition to show my recent work. The show was well attended despite some restrictions and was featured very prominently in the local newspaper.
I arrived in Switzerland one week before the lockdown facing not only the pandemic but also a three month isolation in my apartment and studio. Fortunately the residence was located in the old castle of Kaspar Stockalper built in the 17th century. On the bright side I could start working for my solo exhibition ‘Prosthetic Memories’ without any distraction. My focus was on wearable paper sculptures, taxidermy objects and some Covid related drawings. The residency lasted until August with the main exhibition in July when public events were possible again.
Born in isolation, the project “Prosthetic Memories” was originally inspired by Max Frisch’s story: Man appears in the Holocene. “Disasters are known only by man, nature knows no disasters” writes the author. His protagonist, alone in a valley in Ticino, he deals with the loss of memory in the narrative.
Onishi: In 2019 finally I was able to acquire my own home in Japan. Before that I rented different places all these years, where I stayed for a few months. By the way, this is the first house I ever owned. Together with my family I hope to settle down here soon. The house consists mainly of an old part, which was built 80 years ago in the traditional style. The rooms for the children, the kitchen and the bathroom were later built in modern style. The newest structure on our property is the garage. It is huge and will be transformed into a stylish studio for my work. And a motorcycle for my husband, I guess.
About 90km from Tokyo it is a reasonable commute. With two Onsen in town and woods and mountains around the corner I experienced it as a perfect place for work and leisure. But best of all I made a lot of friend over the years, many of them artists, which I am so eager to meet.
The silk store in Onishi was transformed into a cultural gathering by Shiro Oni Studio. Working on my paper garments at the place also inspired me to start a silkworm farm.
The Mark Rothko Art Center in Daugavpils was a former military base on the geographical edge to Russia. A handful of international and local artists were invited to held an photographic exhibition in the brink of an annual festivity. We were hosted very courteous and went on some trips together to learn abot the region and its history.
The Copper Leg Art Residency in Estonia was such a lovely experience with all this warm and nice people in this cold winter. The residency was located in an old school building which was transformed into a cultural hub for the area. I used to get the firewood early in the morning to heat my studio up. The exhibition turned out as a great party and an invitation to a traditional wedding the weekend after.
Work in progress
The residency in Solothurn was one of a kind. Situated in the castle midtown I was facing the Aare and still was most of the time for myself alone. Starting in Dezember my family came to visit me for some weeks and soon enough I found some very interesting people I got friends with. For the first time I thought I could speak my native tongue at a residency but the Swiss dialect teached my otherwise. I got along quite well and learned fast to understand the people and follow their conversations.
The exhibition was hosted in a lovely Galerie, S11 and was not only remarkable in its setting but also well attended. All the experimental pieces and materials I was not too used to work with turned out great.
The residency at Gachang Art Studio in Daegu in the middle of Korea was a most exciting experience. I stayed there in the summer at a former school which was designated as cultural hub for Korean and international artists. The residency was funded by the government so I received a monthly pocket money. Adam, an Irish video-artist was the only other non Korean and we became close friends in a joint effort to defy the circumstances. The exhibition was quite an success and an invitation for further show in Busan followed.
What started out in the attic of my house turned in a full size studio located in an old house which was kind of frozen in time. The interior had not changed for a couple of decades, which made it very unique but also not to practical. After being out of the country for most of the time I stopped the project and settled in Japan for the same reason. To find a place to work.
Nevertheless we did have some remarkable parties at that place. Packed with people the old place turned into some great spot, creating good memories and moments.
The residence at the Swatch Peace Art Hotel was exciting beyond anything I could have imagined. I knew Shanghai before, when I was about five years ago for a street photography project. The residence experience started with a limousine at the airport and a most luxurious apartment and separate large studio in the historic building in the center of the city. Overlooking Bund and Pudong, about ten artists lived together and shared a breakfast and a chat in the morning.
The working opportunities were quite good, only the Internet restrictions proved to be a handicap. In the course of the months I got to know the city, but the Chinese artists in the residence were the only locals I got to know better. The solo exhibition six months later proved to be an astonishing show on approximately 600 square meters.