No. 143 – April 2007
Gachi Hasper is a renowned artist who played a leading role in the art scene of the 1990s. She currently continues to develop her personal production, along with her work as a cultural manager, in a project that has just finished its second edition, the Residencia Internacional de Artistas en Argentina (International Artists’ Residence in Argentina (RIAA), which took place in Ostende, a beach town in the Buenos Aires Province, between March 5 and 20. In this article she tells us how the idea of this cultural management came about.
Art Update: How did RIAA begin?
Gachi Hasper: It was an idea that was going around my head and that interested me. I was doing the curatorial project in Room 2 of the Borges Cultural Center. At that time, a friend of mine told me that Melina Berkenwald – who was living in London at the time – wanted to meet me so that I could assist her in her career as an artist. So I told her to go and participate in residencies around the world. She did it and when she returned she brought with her a series of contacts and proposed the idea of doing this type of residency in Argentina. I wanted to work with Diana Aisenberg and Roberto Jacoby to start thinking about this project here. We started meeting and working in 2004. It took 2 years of pre-production until we achieved the first edition which took place last year. We had meetings with Triangle, a London-based organization that does this kind of 21-day residency format around the world and provides money. At the beginning I thought that with this contact in London the problem was solved. But it wasn’t like that at all. We had to manage everything with a lot of effort. Knowing this, we decided to continue with the project, taking into account that instead of finding an institution we had to do it this way.
AAD: What do you mean by “this way”?
GH: Asking a lot of people for sponsorship. Each one of them should give us a thousand, instead of having only one institution give you 50 thousand, for example.
AAD: Is RIAA a project managed entirely by artists?
GH: Yes, with a lot of work, you have to understand how a project of this magnitude can be done in Argentina.
AAD: Did you experience this type of residency?
GH: Yes, I did, I went to 3 residencies and I know how productive it is. The Fullbright Cinatti scholarship, in Marfa. That’s why I encourage this type of exchange and production meetings.
AAD: How did you contact the Old Ostende Hotel?
GH: We placed an ad in Ramona magazine and two days later Roxy, the hotel’s owner, called to tell us she was interested. No one else answered, as if that’s what was supposed to happen. I knew the hotel, the novel Los que aman odian (Those who Love Hate) that Silvina Ocampo wrote was inspired by this site. It’s an interesting place, because besides the common areas like the dining room, the swimming pool, and the sea, there is a place where people can work, and some rooms are used as workshops. There was a certain freedom that the hotel gave us to do this. Also, another important aspect is that they close it for us while the residence is being carried out. What happens here, the artists’ interaction, is because we are isolated in the middle of the dunes between Pinamar and Cariló. Although there is a city nearby, you feel a sense of isolation that allows things to happen that would not occur in the city.
AAD: Does the residence have that concept of isolation, like the grouping of a sports team?
GH: Yes, the idea is to have everything arranged and organized so that the artist can focus exclusively on his or her work. Somehow that’s all taken care of and then they can devote themselves entirely to creating.
AAD: Are there other residencies in Argentina?
GH: Yes, the Levante in Rosario and the Basilico. Similar to what Trama was, but it’s another format. This has another magnitude, in the sense of placing 20 people working together.
AAD: The organization and coordination of the project is in the hands a group formed by you, Roberto Jacoby, Diana Aisenberg and Melina Berkenwald.
GH: We consult each other and give our opinions on everything. The executive work is done by Melina and myself.
AAD: How is the selection of artists carried out?
GH: RIAA works by invitation. With foreign artists we get an international advisor who suggests a candidate. It is important to understand that those from abroad always arrive sponsored by an embassy or by some institution in their country. In the case of Argentines, we go to various institutions such as the Fondo Nacional de las Artes (National Arts Fund), local collectors, and the Fundación Telefónica, among many others.
AAD: What do you provide for the artists?
GH: The entire stay here and the cost of transport for materials. The idea is for them not to have any expenses. The biggest difficulty is financing Argentine artists.
AAD: Who selects the Argentine artists?
GH: We do. We consider names, start making lists and try to have different generations represented. It is important that there be at least one artist with experience and a career in the group, because they can contribute much more than someone who’s done only one show. With the idea that we have to give scholarships to young people, many times the older artists are forgotten and need resources. And also one already knows that they are given money and will continue to stay in the art world, that there is continuity. I’ve always been interested in not going where everyone else is going. The generational mix is good.
AAD: Are there any differences with the first edition held last year?
GH: Yes, in this 2007 edition there was more production and the group worked a lot in collaboration. There was also more bonding between the artists.
AAD: Last year you published a book with good records. Will there be a similar catalog of the 2007 RIAA experience?
GH: Yes, this year we’re going to do that too. But we also want to set up a website, a platform to capitalize on this whole experience.
AAD: What is the value of a residency for an artist?
GH: It’s a scholarship. An enrichment, a possibility of subsidizing production. Here, artworks have been produced, through RIAA. Specifically, it is a stimulation for production. It’s about being able to make an artwork that isn’t necessarily linked to sales and the market.
RIAA is organized by Diana Aisenberg, Melina Berkenwald, Graciela Hasper and Roberto Jacoby. The following artists participated in the 2007 edition: Elba Bairon (Bolivia), Ernesto Ballesteros (Buenos Aires), Maximiliano Bellmann (Paraná), Marina De Caro (Mar del Plata), Daniel Joglar (Mar del Plata), Fernanda Laguna (Buenos Aires), Gustavo Marrone (lives in Barcelona), Rosalba Mirabella (Tucumán), Rosana Schoijett (Buenos Aires). Josefina Guilisasti (Chile), Marie-Jeanne Hoffner (France), Michelle Horrigan (Ireland), Artur Lescher (Brazil), Daniel Medina (Venezuela), Sandra Monterroso (Guatemala), Andrew Moszynski (United States), Eduardo Padilha (England), Chris Taylor (United States) and Miguel Ventura (Mexico).
BY LAURA BATKIS