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The Impact of Artist Residencies | eteam

“Even though we spent a lot of concentrated time working on the project we had planned to accomplish, we still had enough energy, inspiration, and fun to experiment with new thoughts and ideas.”

eteamWhen we received the invitations to stay at the MacDowell Colony and at Yaddo in the spring and summer of 2003, we felt excited and anxious at the same time. We had never been at a live-in artist residency before and did not know what to expect. We had applied, because we needed time to work: time nobody else wanted, required, wasted, and cared about—no boss, no bill, no bar, no bus, no post-office waiting-line. A residency seemed to offer that. But was it really the right decision to spend three weeks in the countryside mainly surrounded by other artists? Wouldn’t that get boring? Wasn’t that artificial? What if this environment forced us to socialize all day long? Did we really want to trade our daily New York City subway trip for a free ride in a bubble floating over green meadows?

Being this skeptical, we arrived a little shy at the MacDowell office, where we received the keys to two amazingly spacious and comfortable studios and bedrooms to stay and work in. We were shown the main house, the bicycles and the way to town, the library, the rose garden, the trails through the woods, the ping-pong table, the swimming pool, and the wood for the fireplace. There was a bed for naps, a bed for sleeping, a couch for reading, a desk for writing, a bench for talking, a rocking chair for thinking, a dining room for breakfast and dinner, and a picnic basket for lunch. If we should need anything else, we could contact the office. What a great moment. It felt like a wealthy, understanding, and supportive—but so far missing—relative had emerged and decided it was time to support our work by treating us like prince and princess.

After we spent the first days mainly sleeping, walking, and enjoying the good food, we started to love the bubble life. Not because we felt we were enclosed in one (human nature adjusts fast, even to luxury), but because we were able to produce them. Here a bubble, there a bubble, it bubbled everywhere, and not only around our studios. MacDowell turned out to be the perfect setting to shoot the cowboy scenes for our video. Yaddo’s infrastructure, on the other hand, prevented us from becoming isolated in the lonesome process of video editing. The mansion enabled frequent encounters, followed by valuable feedback on our almost-finished piece, and the basketball court offered space for physical exercise in the form of scrapper.

Even though we spent a lot of concentrated time working on the project we had planned to accomplish, we still had enough energy, inspiration, and fun to experiment with new thoughts and ideas. Only after we had returned to New York did we realize that these ventures, which had not felt like working but more like playing around, had become an important part of our project—almost the piece itself. The fact that other people at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo had partly collaborated on these experiments made them even more special. We are extremely thankful for the time and support at both residencies, and can’t even imagine how our project would have developed if we had not been invited to these unique places.

eteam (Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger): www.meineigenheim.org