Secrets of Solitude #3

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.

#13. How would you like to collaborate with new initiatives and values in Asia in terms of artist residency programs?
Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, director of the Center for Arts and Culture, NLI Research Institute, Tokyo

Seen from Europe, we are observing how artist residency programs are booming in South-East Asia and the whole Pacific area. It seems that in this part of the world artist residencies are understood as markers of a new »enlightened« globalized economy and as promoters of creative industries. These premises totally differ from the traditional role of artist residencies, for example in Europe, where they are considered as an important element of a traditional (and successful!) public cultural policy. Akademie Solitude is extremely interested in an exchange of experiences between these two diverging positions. But we also understand your question as an invitation to collaborate with these new initiatives in Asia and we really appreciate this offer. You are welcome at Solitude for any discussion about possible collaborations!

#14. Who was not here yet?
Anke te Heesen, chair for the History of Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Still influenced by the most recent jury meeting in January with the selection of the future fellows for 2015–2017 and the overwhelming number of over 3,000 applications, the focus falls first on the great number of unawarded scholarships. In this round alone, Akademie Schloss Solitude has created over 2,900 »non-fellows.« In retrospect over the last 25 years, the number of those who were not here becomes exponential. But to focus on the future as well, we also think about the constantly rising number of those who are yet to apply and be »here«.

#15. What is the secret of Akademie Schloss Solitude’s amazing success – not only in terms of launching some of the world’s most amazing artists’ brilliant trajectories, but also in making the world a more thoughtful and reflective place?
Mary Sherman, director of TransCultural Exchange, Boston

Jean-Baptiste Joly: Good question. Nobody’s put it that way, but I am not sure if I have an answer for the second part because we don’t »make the world a more thoughtful and reflective place.« We try to, even though we’re just pretending to …

Mary Sherman: Well, I think you do. I think real change can only happen on the one-to-one, person-to-person level. The rest seems to me forced and doesn’t last. Instead, there is just one awful political upheaval after another, and many people suffer as a consequence of those changes. Unfortunately, you are probably right: one can only try to create real change. But what if we didn’t try?

#16. Is there an issue which has been currently or for a while already troubling the »abetment« Solitude?
Hans-Joachim Hespos, composer, Ganderkesee

How will the Akademie ensure the stability of its existence? Through the plan of the decisive moment which could change everything, even its own future? Or through conservative, sometimes necessary decisions? These two contrasting strategies have offset each other irreconcilably for 25 years. The unrest which results from this is constitutive for the ideal permanence of the Akademie.

#17. Akademie Solitude – breeding ground of countless ideas, processes and works. Altogether, an invisible collection narrating and describing a whole epoch. Will this collection stay invisible or will it one day be a sensuous and physical experience?
Frank Motz, director ACC Galerie Weimar

Very glad you ask this question as it was the starting point for many projects we are working on right now. Partly the ideas, processes and works of the fellows have found a presentation platform in the yearbooks which have been published every two years since the foundation of the Akademie. Many works like videos and sound/music could never be presented this way and especially work processes and many fruitful cooperations between the fellows could not be made accessible in a proper way. With the Solitude blog we started to change this. For the first time, interviews, work processes, and studio visits have become available for the public and more formats will be implemented step by step. We also started to make the whole amazing archive of the Akademie public on the website. Right now there is just a list of all the video and sound works but also step by step the real works can be played directly from the website. Last but not least we started to produce short videos to feature the exhibitions – which in the past could only be experienced by the local public and visitors – and to thereby introduce the work of the fellows to a larger public worldwide. Nevertheless, the invisible collection will never become fully tangible as Solitude is trying to offer the kind of breeding ground that keeps certain areas private and protected in order to allow the full extent of experimentation.

#18. In the last 25 years the Akademie has become more and more recognized world-wide, but where do the majority of the design fellows come from and why? What are they doing now?
Maria Pia Quarzo-Cerina, cultural journalist, Milan

The design fellows come predominantly from Europe (Germany, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Romania amongst others). A good third come from non-European countires (Argentina, Russia, India, and Japan amongst others). Just like other artists, they are mobile and don’t live in the city or country which they grew up in. Most often, they name the Royal College in London, the Rijks Akadmie in Amsterdam, and the UdK in Berlin as their educational institute.

Design holds a special position in the academy because its definition has changed enormously over the years. The geographical background of the fellows is actually less relevant than the understanding of design of each juror who selected them: classical at the beginning of the nineties, thereafter conceptual and focused on interface issues. At the turn of the century, it was less a matter of design, more one of social design, with fellows who took part in the »Alter-globalization« movement. Today’s design fellows are ultimately often artists who were trained as designers but implement their knowledge and know-how in the free artistic field so that the classic distinction between free and applied is eliminated. Design currently nurtures a universal demand for every form of creativity. For several years, the hegemonic development has been accompanied by a theoretical discourse which is taught and researched at most design academies.