Microresidence Network

Microresidence will save the world

                           Mkrtich Tonoyan
Co-Founder of Microresidency Network
Director, ACOSS, Armenia

It was inspiring to return to Japan to participate in the Microresidence Forum 2015 and see it expanded into larger circles as a pre-event of Saitama Triennial 2016. This Forum proved how diverse and flexible small-scale residencies can be and how they can serve as vehicles for national and international cultural exchange. Through initiating, creating and implementing such projects, microresidencies are a method of developing network relations with the potential to function as an independent tool for social change.

Models and types of microresidence are borderless, like the horizon that broadens the further you travel. This is what attracts me; the concept and impetus of each residency can be individual and particular to context. Microresidencies can be so creative that they turn into a social practice; independent, interactive, participatory social “art works”. This is the diverse ecology of microresidencies.

If we observe it as a social phenomenon we can see the models are shaped by the influence of the initiators’ dreams and needs of their community, dependent on location and the local concept of hospitality. This is the main social aspect of microresidence that’s why we say “the concept of any sort of residence already assumes networking”, creating creative communities with a strong belief in what they are doing and the spirit of mutual support. I am interested to consider how the use of online and social media technologies might expand the reach of microresidencies, to increase their impact, influence and their power for social change. How might the connectivity of internet social networks like “Airbnb”, “work away” and “couch surfing” be applied to microresidencies? There are still many kinds of projects yet to emerge that can be integrated into the microresidence idea to generate new models, based on the simple principles of exchange, understanding and trust.

Microresidency, with its flexibility, can quickly identify and react to challenges to social and human rights. For instance, I imagine the potential of microresidencies to initiate innovative solutions in extreme environments: hospitals, in war and conflict zones, prisons, sites of protest, and environmental disaster areas for example. With small investments in the form of in-kind support, radical forms of residency become possible.

Microresidences can be established by artists, but also by others drawn to the concept of “art and cultural hospitality”. My experience in Art Space Yosuga in Kyoto demonstrated this: a microresidence established by a retired detective. In Armenia, “microresidency” is the only lasting model for a country in transition. I will generalize this idea for all developing countries, where lack of funds prevents big institutional international residencies from developing, and where microresidency also means artist-run and alternative art spaces as the culture of contemporary art.
So microresidence is able to “infiltrate” into every social “sub-territories” and can fill creative “vacuums” with art activities. It is able to encourage art mobility between countries and developing international independent creative networks. In this situation artists’ initiation starts to play an important role in creating another art scene, which corresponds with worldwide contemporary art movements.