Secrets of Solitude #4

What is the secret of Akademie Schloss Solitude? Who has not yet been here? How has the institution developed? In this anniversary year of the Akademie, it’s time to reflect back on the last 25 years and to look to the future of Solitude. 25 friends, artists, jurors, and partners were invited to challenge the Akademie with one question each to reveal its secrets.

#19. To what extent does Akadamie Solitude see itself as a peace-oriented project for the future which contributes to breaking down prejudices and emotions as well as confrontations between various cultures and people, through the artistic and creative exchange of young fellows? What regional focuses will be important for the selection of supported artists in the future?
Dieter Spöri, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg

Without losing its artistic requirement, the academy has developed from a cultural-political project to a peace-oriented one in the last 25 years. For the academy, the dimension of a not only peaceful, but also productive coexistence of young people from different cultures has become ever more important, as differences between people are not an obstacle. Quite the opposite in fact! From this, unexpected, future-oriented projects often develop, which are continued in other parts of the world.

As a peace-oriented project, the academy ensures that its unique experience is carried further. It supports young people who want to establish their artists’ residence and sets up networks between cultural journalists from countries in the third world and Solitude fellows. The establishment of the new Solitude Webportal is part of this strategy. With a solid partner on its side, the academy could even foresee systemizing these measures of support in order to establish a type of non-profit franchising of the Solitude model.

Even if it’s difficult for a relatively small organization like the academy to speak of geographical priorities, three main focuses are currently recognizable: Thanks to the cooperation with partners in Eastern Europe, the issue of European integration remains more current than ever; with its current jury, the academy has placed a clear focus on Asia for the coming four years; furthermore, the academy is trying to strengthen its contact to artists on the African content and is backing partnerships with NGOs there for the coming years.

#20. After the failure of politics and capitalism: can the world be saved with ART? My question refers to the future vision of Solitude and the cooperation of artists and art as a means to come into contact/to start a conversation with one another.
Tina Hartmann, academic counselor at the department of linguistics and literature, Universität Bayreuth

No. Art can’t actually save the world. But it can open new perspectives and serve as a medium for a better understanding between people of different cultures. That is exactly where the task and opportunity of Akademie Schloss Solitude lies. For 25 years we have offered a space here in which young artists from many different background, cultures, and countries can communicate, get to know each other, and work together. After their time at Solitude, they take these experiences and impressions of an international, respectful, and peaceful coexistence back to their own cultures, cities, and countries like ambassadors. We would very much wish to make the world a little more peaceful through this.

#21. Public transportation currently makes it difficult to get to Akademie Schloss Solitude. From Stuttgart central station, you can expect travel times of up to 50 minutes. But how will one reach you in 25 years? Does this play any role at all in your work? What types of mobility will there be? What forms of communication will the Akademie use?
Markus Merz, Rector of Merz Akademie, Hochschule für Gestaltung, Kunst und Medien, Stuttgart

For people who don’t like to travel with public transport or do so rarely, the journey from the central station to Solitude may seem like 50 minutes. However, according to the VVS app and my own experience, it takes barely half an hour, no more. The Akademie communicates with the whole world via the internet, but for local contact public transportation is indispensable. Bus 92 – which stops in front of the front door and gives the daily routine of the Akademie its rhythm – connects the Solitude fellows to the city center in an ideal manner. At the planning of Solitude events, the Akademie always pays attention to travel times for external visitors, a third of whom travel by bus. But I admit that the buses could go somewhat more often, and regardless of whether you spend the evening in Stuttgart as a fellow, or visit Solitude as a guest at an event, try to avoid missing the last bus around midnight! In 25 year’s time the amount of traffic will be severely reduced thanks to an innercity congestion charge, so that public transportation will present not only the best, but also the only direct connection between the city center and Solitude.

#22. Solitude: loneliness on the hill, concentration for artists buried in their work; at the same time, the place of a constantly growing global art network. The starting place of all networking: the cafeteria in the basement of the residency. How would the influence of the network change, if the cafeteria was on the top floor of the castle with its dominating view over the land?
Christine Fischer, director of Musik der Jahrhunderte Stuttgart, Manager of the ECLAT Festival, Stuttgart

Were the cafeteria on the top floor of the castle, the fellows would not necessarily have a better view than the one they have over the country, the continent and the whole world. But would the population of Stuttgart be able to see them better? Yes. The Akademie always dreamt of this: a real café in 18thcentury style, in which you play chess and philosophize in public, in which Diderot and Rousseau rub shoulders and exchange views with the young Swabian followers of the Enlightenment. That would be wonderful. Unfortunately, the cafeteria is situated in the bottom floor of the office building and only open to the public during events. It’s actually a shame as the city of Stuttgart would otherwise have more of Solitude. But with its new webportal, the Akademie is currently planning the equivalent of a café on the internet, where everyone can take part with their own contributions and probably exchange ideas with the Diderots and Rousseaus of our time.

#23. We at POGON are very much preoccupied with the issue of institutional models and are wondering how Solitude will transform in the future as an institution?
Sonja Soldo, program coordinator of POGON, Zagreb Center for Independent Culture and Youth

By accompanying artists who perceive earlier and more keenly than others what is happening in the world, Akademie Solitude reacts as a kind of seismograph and detects earlier than other institutions what could happen in the future. Parallel to artists who are permanently readjusting their practice in order to react to artistic, social, political, economic or cultural changes, Solitude has modified its way of working several times since 1990. For this reason the main evolution of Solitude, like the development of exchange programs with NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe; the fellowship for coordination; and the art, science & business program result from the permanent dialogue between the staff and the fellows.

The next change is taking place right now; at the moment, we are developing together with former and current fellows a second virtual Akademie, a new web portal dedicated to the projects and stories of the Solitude network, which includes all former and current fellows and jurors, as well as their friends and invited guests. The new web portal will address young professional digital journalists and creatives with a new fellowship for digital journalism and web development starting in 2016. Interested artists and writers from the outside world will be invited to contribute to this portal, which will function as a free space open for young talents. As the first artist residency that offers online residencies, Akademie Schloss Solitude will support the best contributions with funding and special promotion on the platform.

#24. At 25 at the latest, the wild youth is usually over. Does the serious side of life start now?
Marte Kräher, current fellow for art coordination, Stuttgart

25 is an ideal age, and Akademie Schloss Solitude knows the secret of eternal youth: Every six months curious and active fellows arrive, who subject the team at the academy to a rejuvenating cure again. At 25, Akademie Schloss Solitude is more relaxed than five or ten years ago; it doesn’t have to constantly prove and legitimize itself through campaigns. Instead, it interacts in a relaxed manner with fellows, projects, and the public, in the confidence that it will succeed time and again in supporting artists with adequate measures. Many former fellows can also confirm this:

»To me, my stay at solitude has been more than important, and the book is the result – among other things – of the inspiration I received when I was there.« DS, Buenos Aires

»Solitude is a key point in my life. I guess for the others as well. I hope everything is well with you and the beloved academy!« KT, Sofia

»Thank you for a creative and productive experience equal to no other.« HB, Nazareth

»I have Akademie Schloss Solitude to thank for the many scholarships I have received and my ›success‹.« LC, Bucharest

#25. »Thus far you have only enumerated advantages which you share in common with many others. Why are you so silent regarding those noble qualities which are peculiarly your own?«
Friedrich Schiller, Love and Intrigue, Act II, Scene III

Akademie Schloss Solitude is the only artists’ residence which simultaneously has the three elements for the support of artists available: it is located on site, it manages its own budget independently, and it decides on the allocation of fellowships with its special jury process alone. Furthermore, no other artists residency in the world offers such an open-minded and interdisciplinary program, in which all branches of the arts as well as scientific disciplines are found. Thus, it finds it easier than other artists’ residencies to develop a special profile, its own spirit, the Esprit Solitude.