Community versus Tourism

“Arriving at a residency involves the excitement of first times. A residency always carries the freshness and excitement of walking into a city for the first time.” – Tania Candiani, from Rethinking Residencies

Let’s assume that we all agree that we want our time at an artist residency to light a proverbial firecracker under our creative practices; we want to somehow come out of the experience richer, energized, with a fertile impetus for creative lives. And residencies can have that effect! But not for the same reasons for all, and not in the same magnitude. Here, at ArteSumapaz, we see different factors having different impacts on different artists:

  • Newness of place and culture
  • Community of like-minded people
  • Nature
  • Supportive infrastructure such as studio and meals

For some of us, the last time we had all of our needs anticipated and didn’t understand what everyone was saying was when we were very young children, so that when that environment is recreated it can have a wonderful way of throwing us back into that oneiric creative space of childhood.

It seems like the most magic occurs for folks who are willing to let go of a sense of consumer tourism. They embrace a sense of the place acting upon them, and react to inconveniences with equanimity and humor.

As ours is for the most part an artist-funded residency, it can easily be felt to be a sort of bed and breakfast for creatives. And while providing hospitality is embedded in the residency, this notion that we’re a sort of hotel or B & B is not at all at the heart of what this place is and the potential for the magic that it can have for the creatives who come.

When you come to ArteSumapaz, you are joining a community. That community is dynamic and liquid, “wispy,” changing each month as some artists depart and arrive. It’s shaped by shared values, and inherent temporality.

In Consumer Tourism, you’re purchasing a service, and so if something isn’t quite up to your expectations you might complain. You might call up the front desk, and say, “hey, my shower isn’t hot enough!” or “I’m tired of scrambled eggs, I want something else!” Rejecting consumer tourism also means to really dig in and think about what it means to possess the privilege to travel to other lands and peoples, the impact of colonialism on these places, and how we can humbly submit ourselves to the experience without the need to control it.

In accepting being in community as opposed to being a consumer, it’s as though you’re visiting good friends. In the face of the inconveniences you encounter, you’ll find that it can be more effective to work with the cohort and staff to resolve issues.

It’s more effective to give feedback in all the ways that it’s invited – and that with respect and kindness and without rancor. In my own experience, the greatest wealth of these mountains is the soulfulness and goodheartedness of its inhabitants, and one of the greatest joys is discovering that more as we relinquish our habits of the tourist; to allow ourselves the very wonderful sensation of being in community.

At ArteSumapaz, there are a lot of ways to give feedback, and to resolve issues:
Emergencies – (ex. my toilet isn’t working!) of course if you have an immediate urgent problem, you should message Peppa and Ric directly and promptly.
Issues with ArteSumapaz – (issues regarding your room or workspace) should also be sent directly to Peppa. Generally unless it’s urgent, it’s good to use the different platforms based on urgency:
Email for things that don’t need urgent attention
Whatsapp if you need a response in the next few hours
Directly talking – if it requires urgent attention
Community Meetings – weekly community meetings to share needs with the community. Again, if it’s not with the community but with the foundation, please message us directly.
Feedback forms – we are constantly asking for feedback in the way of Google forms. Please fill these out, as they really do help with constant improvement.

Some more reading

from Tania Candiani in Rethinking Residencies:

Each residency has brought learning and has given new edges to my artistic practice and to me as a person.

• We are what we inhabit.

• We configure and are configured.

• Places adorn us.

• To refurnish the temporal reality, in the mind and in space.

• Create new calendars and times, let the body understand and accommodate to the new reality.

• To walk, to go out to look for what the place has to find. Promote serendipity, joy, and enjoyment.

• The opportunity to rewrite ourselves. To reconfigure ourselves.

• To work, to produce from the youth of a place, from the freshness of the newly discovered street.

• Let us displace and place ourselves.

• The intrinsic generosity of our circumstance. To respond

to it with an attentive and sensitive ear.

• The constant possibility of mutual learning.

• Freshness. Improvisation. Unfazed. Joy

From that same publication, Dylan Gauthier wrote:

Hospitality is also an act of empathy, and so extremely subjective. (…)  Monolithic hospitality is the colonial invention of the global corporate hotel chain. One can find the same clean white sheets and towels, the same mint on the pillow, and the same cable news shows in every room in any corner of the world.

In the residency field, hospitality is less about providing a material baseline or an atmosphere of sameness than about opening up an exchange between host (the residency administrator) and guest (the artist-in-residence) where we might, for a moment, confuse roles and ask what it is that we need in order to share space with each other. We hosts become guests in our own residency programs, at least if things are going well. Likewise, the guest becomes the host at some point (the open studio event, the informal studio hang). The design of a residency should, ideally, increase this confusion as much as possible—at the end of the residency, who leaves and who stays?—and its main method is hospitality itself.