Sediment is the deposit left at the bottom of a vessel containing a liquid, such as wine lees or coffee dregs. The sediment you will find in this catalogue is left by the works created by the artists who were in residence over the course of the first year of Bòlit’s residency programme, which got under way in May 2014. Its first sediment took the form of an exhibition—Solatge [Sediment]—featuring pieces by the first ten artists in residence. This show was on at Bòlit’s exhibition spaces in Girona in 2015 and then travelled to Casal Son Tugores in Alaró; these same pieces have now left a deposit in this catalogue. Moreover, each and every one of the projects presented here is the result or sediment of the artist’s residency.
In winemaking, sediment is also linked to the notion of vintage and the recognition that every year yields a different harvest, vintage and blend. We should see this catalogue as the result of the first stage of an enduring long-term programme which we hope will stimulate our eyes and minds and bear rich pickings for the art centre, the participating artists and the general public alike.
The artists who took part in the first year of residencies at Bòlit were drawn from several initiatives, such as exchanges with other contemporary art spaces and calls for various kinds of projects with different goals. We are especially grateful to Addaya Contemporary Art Centre because our collaboration agreement made it possible to select four artists—Pere Bellés, Andrés Senra, Tomàs Pizà and David Crespo―to undertake a one-month research residency in a different art centre from their nearest one. A key role was also played by ETAC Crossborder Contemporary Art Space, which receives funding from the Pyrenees–Mediterranean Euroregion. In addition to Bòlit and Addaya, this umbrella organisation also encompasses Le LAIT Art Centre in Albi, La Panacée in Montpellier and the Museu de l’Empordà in Figueres. Thanks to ETAC’s international call for projects, artists Javier Chozas and Jennis Li Cheng Tien were able to undertake a six-week residency in Girona.
Other artists in residence were selected through Bòlit’s own call for a wide range of different projects. Andrés Siri used his residency to create a video with a unique take on Girona’s heritage. Carme Platero and Teresa Martín created a video mapping linked to the Girona International Mapping Festival (FIMG). Azahara Cerezo won a grant to do a one-month residency in The Hague thanks to the collaboration agreement between Bòlit and the Dutch artists’ association 1646. And the partnership between Bòlit and the Associació Gresol to carry out an ongoing art action programme in the spirit of FEM Festival led to a two-week residency by Elvira Santamaria and Brian Patterson in Girona.
As you leaf through this catalogue, you will see that the works in Solatge are the result of research by artists with different backgrounds eager to work in a different situation from usual, with all the fresh conceptual, critical and thought-provoking stimuli this entails. The result is a selection of paintings, videos, photographs and installations. There are a number of pluridisciplinary installations combining audiovisual work with other resources such as sculpture, photography, text and sound. In all these projects, however, the different parts are arranged as part of a narrative. There is another clear common denominator as well: the importance of the creative process and the impact of the context on the idea that finally triggers that creation and meaning of the piece.
The artists made site-specific projects for the context where they were in residence, and their works reveal their unique take on a new place as they got to know it. The artists came from a range of countries and cities worldwide: Javier Chozas, Teresa Martín, Andrés Senra (Madrid), David Crespo (León), Elvira Santamaría (Mexico), Brian Patterson (United Kingdom), Jennis Li Cheng Tien (Berlin), Tomás Pizá (Mallorca), Carme Platero (Barcelona), Pere Bellés (Cadaqués), and Andrés Siri and Azahara Cerezo (Girona).
Some of these projects―those by Teresa Martín and Carme Platero, Andrés Senra, Andrés Siri, Elvira Santamaria and Brian Patterson―offer a fresh, innovative insight into the city of Girona. Their work opens up new perspectives on the Barri Vell, including the Door of the Apostles at the Cathedral, the Arab Baths, the River Onyar, Sant Daniel Valley and the water tank at the Museum of the History of Girona, sparking new ideas or suggesting new meanings. Nearly landscapes were the source of inspiration for other artists in residence, including Jennis Li Cheng Tien, who wove a metaphor out of the waters of the River Onyar; Tomàs Pizà, who explored typical, picture-postcard settings on the Costa Brava; and David Crespo, who created a piece on the Sant Narcís and Domeny neighbourhoods in Girona. The two artists who won a Bòlit creative residency grant explored other contexts: Pere Bellés created a new piece on Alaró (Mallorca), and Azahara Cerezo had the chance to carry out a project in The Hague. Finally, the piece by Girona-based artist Javier Chozas isn’t tied to any geographical area but is a physical materialisation of a thought.
Bòlit’s programme of residencies sets out to create a space for exchange with other centres and residency spaces. The aim is to sign agreements to welcome artists from overseas and enable Girona-based artists to undertake artistic residencies in other interesting realities. It also defines itself as a space for creation and research. Bòlit equips Girona-based artists with the key tools for carrying out research work linked to the context of the city of Girona: an apartment alongside Bòlit_StNicolau (a Romanesque chapel in the heart of the Barri Vell that serves as one of the art centre’s two exhibition spaces), as well as work resources and contacts to suit each participant and project. Over the course of this first year, the artists worked in different places such as libraries, Bòlit’s workshop space at La Mercè Cultural Centre, L’Espai Marfà and heritage sites such as the Arab Baths, the Mikveh at the Jewish History Museum and the coal bunker and water tank at the Museum of the History of Girona.
Artists interested in undertaking a residency submit a project to the art centre. This project serves as the blueprint for their work, although they are free to carry out further research and expand, confirm, alter, adapt or even rule out their initial idea. The residency space becomes a laboratory for research and creation, with the city of Girona as the object of study or the field of research, like a growing organism that triggers serendipitous processes. The creative force that drives research is unleased when the artists come face to face with their new environment.
Artists in residence are not disinterested, neutral observers or flâneurs. They look with the keen eyes of a researcher, squeezing out every last possibility from their surroundings. Andrés Siri describes the process of creating his piece Parpelleig [Blinking] as “Squeezing out every last drop from the spaces in the city, rediscovering new perspectives, new focuses. Breaking down the relationship with the place to rebuild it anew. Putting the image of its content to one side, exploring its virtues, possibilities and limitations, trying out movements, finding intermediary areas between black and white, blurring the shadows, stopping, speeding up or going back in time.”
For an artist, having a motivation, a creative space and a new city to discover are powerful resources at a time when artistic work is characterised by the paucity of means at artists’ disposal. Promoting creative work by artists is one of the main goals of a centre for contemporary creation. The residency programme is one of the resources Bòlit uses to promote contemporary creation and research.
As an art centre, we don’t work with fully crafted pieces ready for museum display, but rather encourage the emergence of projects and help open up a space for thought. In the same way that medicines are only developed after hours of laboratory work, art only emerges from a creative process. Therefore, in this project, we stress the importance of process and thought, and reveal either a final result or a work in progress. By promoting creative acts, we sow the seeds for works of art.
The aim of the residency programme isn’t for artists to create spectacular, all-encompassing works; we want their pieces to relate to the context and leave a trace, to take on meaning and intent, as Hans Haacke described in his exchanges with Bourdieu.1 That’s why we are eager to follow the trail the artists leave behind at the space after their residency and observe the mark the place imprints on them. This Sediment is the result.
Director. Bòlit, Contemporary Art Centre. Girona