Arthouse Foundation: Promoting Cross-Cultural Exchange
Since its founding 10 years ago, Arthouse Foundation has established itself as not only the non-profit arm of auction house, Arthouse Contemporary, but is also contributing to the creative community in Nigeria in a new way, by offering support and mentorship for artists to create new projects in Lagos, as well as opportunities for exchanges between local and international artists.
As part of its support system, the Arthouse Foundation launched its first residency in 2015 with Victor Ekpuk, a celebrated Nigerian artist who has lived in the United States for the past two decades.
The success of the first residency with Ekpuk led to the launch of a new residency space in 2016 with 4 artists – Dipo Doherty, Olumide Onadipe, Jelili Atiku and Tyna Adebowale, and in 2017, Arthouse increased its intake to 5 artists participating in 3-month sessions with Fransois Beaurain, Nengi Omuku, Thierry Oussou, Kadara Enyeasi and Jimmy Nwanne on its roll call.
Presently Arthouse has created an exchange programme with the Matadero Madrid in Spain, which will bring two Spanish artists to the residency in the fall of 2017, and take two Nigerian artists to Spain.
According to Joseph Gergel who is in charge of the foundation, “This year, we have partnered with the El Ranchito Residency Programme at the Matadero Museum, as well as the Nirox Foundation in South Africa, to provide residency exchanges between the three programmes. Two Nigerian artists, Taiye Idahor and Obinna Makata, will take part in the residency in Spain this Summer and two Spanish artists will come to our residency in Lagos in September.”
“We have an open call for applications, where artists are asked to submit images of their past work and an idea for a new project they would undertake during the residency. Last year, we had over 300 applications from all over the world, so there is need for such a programme, for both Nigerian and international artists wishing to explore Nigeria.”
Each residency consists of a public programing component, an artist talk and an open studio.
For the public programming, each artist is expected to lead a workshop of their choice, based on their own artistic practice and the specific group they wish to target. In the past, artists conducted drawing workshops at secondary schools and advanced painting workshops with students at the University of Lagos, or interactive performance workshops.
During the artist talk and open studios, each resident artist provides a channel for the public to learn about work, as well as speak about new projects in progress.
At the end of each year, Arthouse Foundation organises an exhibition of all the residents’ work. Gergel reveals,
“It is exciting to work with artists who are eager to experiment with new forms and ideas during their residency. As the Arthouse Foundation provides support for materials, a monthly stipend and mentorship with an established artist during the residency, the artists are able to think outside of their general constraints and explore new projects. So far, we had painters who experimented with installation or mixed media works, and this experience has helped them evolve in their practice.”
The Arthouse Foundation team receives many applications every year for its art residency but only offers 6 slots, which makes selection for the residency a difficult process. To ease the stress of selection, the foundation considers the interaction between the two artists simultaneously, and tries to make connections within their work that would be beneficial to both residents. They also try to reflect a diversity of artistic practices, and have so far hosted painters, sculptors, photographers, video artists, and performance artists.
Though the foundation may be constrained by the unavailability of funding, it hopes to find new avenues to gain support in order to grow and create a strong network of support that will sustain its good work.
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