Till 31 May 2022, Polish artists can apply to take part in an artist residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. It is an international Artist-in-Residence Program and has supported approximately 1,400 young artists from over 120 countries since opening its doors in 1990. Akademie residencies allow participants to focus on developing projects in favourable material and intellectual conditions, thanks to which the available resources can be used in an optimal way. It creates a close-knit, global and transdisciplinary network of Solitude alumni that expands from year to year.
From December 2021 to February 2022, one of the Stuttgart’s residents was Barbara Gryka with whom I had the pleasure to talk.
Dobromiła Blaszczyk: Could you tell me how your residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude started? How long have you been there? This wasn’t your first residency?
Barbara Gryka: No, this isn’t my first residency. I think it is one of the most interesting places to work and certainly the most comfortable in terms of conditions.
At first, I was reluctant to send in my application. It was because I was afraid of the fact that I had just graduated. When applying for the programme, I was worried about my political views and my works (because of the change of power at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art). With my art, I want to draw attention to pay attention to political divisions, express my annoyance with the LGBT-free zones, and the abortion ban in Poland.
I’m glad that I made the decision to submit my application. This place gave me creative freedom and broadened my perspective thanks to the presence of not only visual artists but also writers, journalists, botanists, musicians, and architects.
I have not exhibited and will not exhibit in institutions where the directors are the stooges of the government, but at the same time, I know that we cannot allow our country to be perceived only through one right-wing prism abroad.
Schloss made me realize that, at this point, I prefer to work as a duo of Thai Flowers with Filip Kijowski in the swamp, which we dug together, than to enjoy the opening of some exhibitions in institutions that used to be important in my country.
DB: Do you feel like such residencies can significantly influence one’s practice or thinking?
BG: Getting out of your own bubble always gives you such an impulse to not compare yourself to other creators, and to notice how many artistic practices exist; it is an impulse for you to act.
This is what I wish for other artists.
Especially for young people who are graduating, I guess they feel lost, that the old patterns don’t exist, and they need to develop new ideas and take action.
DB: Although each residency is different, many of them are mostly research-based and give artists some time to do a more in-depth investigation of the field they are interested in. Other residencies require artists to complete a particular project… How your stay there looked like?
BG: At Schloss, you decide whether you want to work on-site or do your own research – art is ultimately not a compulsion but a choice.
In her practice she works with performance, video and photography. She is interested in social reality. She lives in Lublin, Końskowola and Warsaw. In her artistic work, she tries to encourage people to act together, to unite, to be together. She works with the local context, finding elements characteristic for a given place. She is interested in issues of identity and memory. However, she does not search for them in what is political and public but in smaller things, closer to the body.
DB: Your residency in Stuttgart has ended. Could you please introduce us to the work you were working on there? Tell me a bit more about it?
BG: While being at Schloss, I started a new paper on the NORD STREAM2 gas pipeline. Initially, I focused on making visions about what it means for Eastern Europe to be disconnected from Yamal Europe, what the further dependence would be, how it might manifest itself, how it would affect us…
However, Russia attacked Ukraine.
The opening of the gas pipeline has been “suspended”…
While analysing the construction of such a large installation underwater, I thought about creating a tiny object inspired by pipe joints.
I created a flute, made entirely of gold – it was made for me by JA. Jabłońska Biżuteria. You can see the inscription on it – “Love Trap”.
DB: Akademie is also a place of interaction. You mentioned that it is open not only for visual artists but also musicians, scientists and cultural workers. Such a hub must have a high impact on participants’ practice. In your practice, you often invite other people, both artists and amateurs, to work together through the body of the performance. How did this atmosphere in the Akademie Schloss Solitude and the people you’ve met there influence yours?
Meeting other female artists and the opportunity to exchange views is an extremely important experience – it allowed us to form a network of contacts and support each other.
I think it will be seen in my next projects. One of them is the planned action “Against Poland”, which will analyse the applications submitted by Polish women to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
DB: What opportunities did this residency involve (studio, grant, networking, etc.)?
BG: There are very comfortable conditions – your own room, studio, money for living and project realization, reimbursement of tickets, and meetings with curators.
DB: What are you working on at the moment?
BG: I continue to work on my flute that I started at Schloss, and continue to develop performative action and sound composition.
I am in the middle of my PhD, and I am working on the topic of slavery in Poland, analysing it in terms of architecture and music from our region. I have the great pleasure to work on it with an outstanding artist who gives me a lot of inspiration, that is Katarzyna Krakowiak.
I am working with Filip Kijowski on developing the activities for the Thai Flowers group.
I support the opening of the Azyl Library in Lublin for the LGBT community, refugees, and non-white people.
I am inspired by other artists: Magdalena Ciemierkiewicz, Xavery Wolski, Róża Duda, Tomasz Stelmański.
I keep my fingers crossed that Waldek Tatarczuk will not only become a director but will once again show us all how to make a real rebellion by reacting to the situation in Poland.
I’m also looking for true love – it’s the most important thing in life.
DB: What would you recommend to artists applying for this art residency?
BG: It’s hard for me to answer this question, but I hope everyone will do what they think is right for themselves and listen to their inner energy, and work in their medium and on topics that interest them… I don’t know; I sound a bit like Paulo Coelho.
Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany
Applications should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 May 2022, 11:59 PM.