Rasa Antanaviciute


From : Vilnius
To: Cairo

Residency Exchange between Lithuanian & Egyptian Contemporary Art Institutions

Interdisciplinary, Visual Arts

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How did this grant contribute to the realization of your project in regard to artistic exchange, local cultural development and/or the promotion of cultural diversity?

The trip made the project possible. It was crucial to go and see potential partner institutions as well as to meet their staff, since the success of a residency largely depends on personal relations and trust. It was also important to present my institution – VAA Nida Art Colony – and to discuss the project live. Thanks to this trip the project will be implemented in 2018. The aim of the project is to establish an artistic residency exchange programme between Egypt and Lithuania. The project encompasses two-month-long residencies of one Lithuanian artist in Egypt and one Egyptian artist in Lithuania (the number of exchange artists may grow as the project develops). VAA Nida Art Colony is initiating this project in order to activate and personalise the connection between Lithuania and Middle East, which so far has been rather passive. Although since its opening in 2011 the Colony has hosted more than 300 residents from various countries on various continents, there was none from the Middle East. By this exchange programme we wish to increase the visibility of contemporary Egyptian art in Lithuania as well as the visibility of contemporary Lithuanian art in Egypt. We believe that intercultural relations have the potential to enrich cultural life in both countries, to increase tolerance and to foster mutual understanding, which is a sensitive issue in the context of military actions, terrorist attacks as well as current refugee crisis. For Lithuanian artists the exchange programme will work as a personalised alternative to mass media coverage of the political developments in the Arab World and an effective means to break down various prejudices connected to it.

How does exchange, networking and international contacts contribute to the development of your artistic and cultural project?

Both VAA Nida Art Colony and MASS Alexandria were created as platforms for international exchange and learning. MASS offers Egyptian artists a yearly informal 6-9 month-long study programme in visual arts by inviting international artists to give tutorials and to offer workshops, facilitating creation of new art works and organising exhibitions. VAA Nida Art Colony, being a department of Vilnius Academy of Arts, has similar aims. We run an international artist in residency programme and an international non-degree Nida Doctoral School, organise shows and symposia, work a lot with Vilnius Academy of Arts students. The foreseen project will widen the scope of our international and intercultural exchange. It will offer an alternative “direction of the gaze” – instead of focusing on the Western cultural centres the project will invite to look at the peripheries and to see hitherto unfamiliar historical and cultural contexts. This alternative direction of the gaze, we believe, will have a long term impact on both participating artists and cooperating institutions. Exchange artists will not only stay in residency and work on their art projects. They will also give artist talks, lead workshops, present their art works during the open studios and at public shows thus contributing to the activation of the connection between Lithuanian and Egyptian art worlds. If the project continues we could speak about the connection between the art worlds of the Baltic States and the Middle East.

Can you elaborate on the learning and knowledge you have gained and shared throughout this experience?

The information gained during the trip will be used in developing, starting and implementing the residency exchange programme. Meeting with future partners will enable the hosts in Lithuania and in Egypt to adequately prepare for the residencies and to meet the needs of the artists. I have also accumulated a list of practical tips for residents who are going to Egypt for the first time. It was very important to learn about the current political situation in Egypt and about the problems contemporary art institutions and NGOs face there. This knowledge will be taken into account while selecting the artist and preparing him/her for the residency. In fact, for the older generation Lithuanian artists current Egyptian political regime would not be something totally new – those who remember Soviet times would find the situation in nowadays Egypt familiar. I was also impressed by the quality of activities at the visited institutions. Impressive programmes, ambitious staff members, great art works and artistic publications will definitely be something to discover for the future artist in residence. Hosting institutions will support their artist in residency with the realisation of a new work and organise public presentations of his/her work in Lithuania and Egypt respectfully. Foreseen exhibition partners are Contemporary Image Collective in Cairo and Project Space Sodų 4 (www.letmekoo.lt/en/category/sodu-4) in Vilnius.

Please indicate a link to your current work (website/facebook page)

www.nidacolony.lt www.facebook.com/NidaArtColony www.vda.lt

Roberto Cimetta Fund

c/o ONDA
13 bis rue Henri Monnier
75009 Paris - France


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