From April to October, the Berwick Research Institute welcomes a succession of artists into its studios for the current season of its Artist in Research residency program (AIR). The program, now a tradition for the alternative art space, provides each experimental artist with two months’ studio time, a stipend, open studio events, and critiques with public audiences as they develop and document their proposed projects.
The Berwick, founded in 2000 as an art “laboratory” where non-commercial art could be produced and exhibited, established the AIR program in 2002 to encourage artists to focus on the creative process, rather than the finished product, of their work. Participants are asked to document this process, writing research reports and keeping detailed journals to serve as public record of the work as well as the concepts surrounding it.
Katya Gorker, the Berwick’s Programming Director, says the creative process for AIR artists is often built on interaction with those who view their work. “A lot of the artists’ work evokes this notion of community,” she says, of opening up an artistic dialog and populating it with ideas from those who make contact with it. “This wave of AIR artists seem like cultural engineers—they’re asking ‘What is culture?’ and ‘What are we moving towards?'”
This year’s four participating artists or collaborative groups were chosen from a field of over thirty applications in a wide variety of media. They include Vaughn Bell, who in April and May will construct a living biosphere inside the Berwick studios. Bell will ask for help from the public, as well as fellow artists, in caring for this urban ecosystem, which will require constant cultivation. In June and July, Carolyn Lambert and Fereshteh Toosi will bring their performance project, Parking Lot Players, to the Berwick in an effort to uncover the hidden commercial and social functions served by this humdrum by-product of modern life.
In his August and September residency, Kenneth Linehan will construct new possibilities for video manipulation and data storage, culminating in the creation of a system that will transform data abnormalities into a series of multi-layered video projections. And Heather Kapplow plans to use her time in September and October to apply for scores of local jobs, bending her credentials to appear more qualified. Kapplow’s project will explore the implied correlation between employment and mental health, and will document the changes she makes to herself in order to suit the qualifications employers demand.
The Berwick Research Institute is located in Dudley Square, at 14 Palmer Street, Roxbury. AIR openings, artist talks, and critique sessions are open to the public. A publication showcasing former AIR artists’ work, as well as research reports and other documentation, will be released this spring.