ArtsLink International Fellowships​: US Projects

2021 Participants

Poland
Krakow
Music

Kosciuszko ArtsLink Fellow, musician, performer and folk tale narrator Yoanna Ayers collects and performs stories and songs of the peoples of Poland and the Caucasus. Her practice investigates how working with the human voice can contribute to the well-being of communities. Immersing into the connection between voice, body and emotions, Yoanna addresses post-trauma issues with an emphasis on women who have experienced war. She employs voice healing techniques, body movement and imagination as vehicles to overcome traumas in the world’s conflict zones.

For her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Yoanna explored voice-healing methodologies and their connection to body and emotions. Yoanna and her US host organization Found Sound Nation launched collaborations with a wide span of creative professionals in music, documentary, installation art, oral history, and somatic healing methodologies using Georgian and Polish songs and oral histories collected during the last decade in the Republic of Georgia. This collaboration explored ways of arranging and performing this music by incorporating visual and oral storytelling from Georgia.

Website
Facebook

Palestine
Multidisciplinary

Live performance and culinary artist Mirna Bamieh is the creator and director of the Palestine Hosting Society. This live art project explores traditional food cultures in Palestine especially those on the verge of disappearing. It brings vanishing dishes back to life over dinner tables, walks, and various interventions. Food creates a significantly different atmosphere for encounters. Sharing food puts on the table aspects of hospitality, distribution, exchange, familiarity and pleasure. A shared meal can become a space of reflection on socio-political realities, attitudes, fashions, and even the suppressed elements of history.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Mirna continued exploring the bacterial and fungi kingdom of fermentation. A staple link in the gastronomic traditions in the East, fermented food entered American cuisine quite recently, and with a degree of hesitation. Creating her own ceramic vessels in Deborah, Iowa as future plating for fermented foods, Mirna’s food interacts with these sculptural objects. Through performance and storytelling, in collaboration with her US host The Invisible Dog Art Center, the artist invited the audience to a dinner based on traditional food practices in Palestine and the Middle East and fermentation cultures throughout the world.

Website
Facebook

Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek
Multidisciplinary

Urban environmentalist and labor rights activist Bermet Borubaeva uses trash as a medium in her work. Bermet is interested in the intersection of arts, climate science, and environmental inequality. Her practice is dedicated to the global problem of food waste and growing ecological disruptions caused by excessive urbanization. Bermet is a co-founder of Bishkek School of Contemporary Art.

Bermet draws our attention to industrial overproduction of processed food and the carelessness with which humans waste almost half of these products rather than bake their own bread or cook dinners. Global food mass production contributes to the destruction of the planet’s ecological systems, causing massive deforestation, the pollution of oceans and scarcity of freshwater. Her work on environmental inequality helps us understand that the developed world’s privileged indulgence in haute cuisine leads to the production of food waste on an enormous scale. At the same time, the food insecurity for hundreds of millions in developing countries is rapidly increasing due to the inequities brought into stark focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist’s most recent intervention highlighted this issue when she lived exclusively on leftover food while working as a cook in a café.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Bermet and her US host organization Hyde Park Art Center, in collaboration with Chicago-based Urban Growers Collective, present a research-focused inter-city, international platform and public program which began with activities in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in spring 2020. The overarching project titled Trash culminates in a series of workshops and open conversations among artists and practitioners, and a public program with both in-person and virtual components to open the project to as wide an audience as possible.

Facebook
Instagram

Uzbekistan
Tashkent
Multidisciplinary

Musician, poet and performing artist Ashot Danielyan advocates art as an instrument for social change, a new and unfamiliar concept in Uzbekistan. The repressive political regime in Uzbekistan over the past three decades has resulted in isolation in artistic and social life leading to severe stasis. The dominance of the academic art school inherited from the Soviet past ensures that the local art community follows conformist self-censorship and aggressively rejects new ideas or socially engaged art practices.

During his ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Ashot met professional and civic communities and explored cross-cultural experiences and socially engaged art practices which emerge from poetry, alternative music and theater. Sharing interest and practice in Japanese history, language, culture, experimental poetry, performance, and book-making, Ashot and his US collaborator Mami Takahashi of PICA, launch a series of poetry readings, artist talks and conversations. The multi-city cultural exchange resulted from Ashot’s and Mami’s virtual residency in 2020 and takes place at PICA and other cultural and educational institutions in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago in 2021.

Instagram

Ukraine
Muzychi
Multidisciplinary

Embracing ideas of consumption, gender, love, power, protest culture, experience of war, plants and dogs, Alevtina Kakhidze is co-founder of a residency program for international artists in the village of Muzychi, The Muzychi Expanded History Project. Having grown up in the coal mining Donetsk region of Ukraine, she has experienced the country’s abrupt and chaotic changes from the days of the USSR to the post-Soviet independence, including the current war of Russia against Ukraine.

To raise awareness of climate change and more sustainable living in the era of global shifts in society, especially in post-pandemic times, she has initiated the laboratory Adult Garden to observe coexistence and the dynamics of plants freed from the gardener’s intervention.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Alevtina and her US collaborators embarked on a garden-focused project that centers on critical observation of organized experimental gardens and natural conservation areas. Using aerial drone photography, stationary cameras, and analysis of plants’ biochemical composition, the artists and scientists from University of Kansas study and learn from the competition and collaboration observable among plants, but also between plants and living organisms such as insects and birds.  Case studies focused on the interaction between native and non-native (including invasive) plants, and explore the cases when a plant native to the US became invasive in Ukraine and vice versa. The project also included a computer-assisted analysis of gathered data. Beyond science, the artists engaged with ethnobotany and learns about traditional Native American practices of gardening and medicinal plant use.

In Alevtina’s third year of ArtsLink International Fellowship in 2022, she is planning a collaboration with the Kansas University School of Visual Art on the project ‘Fate of Plants’. She will continue to research stable systems – prairies in Kansas, a steppe in Ukraine and the restored plant systems on the edge of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone – to generate new work, a series of texts for art and scientific publications and an online discussion. The project has been postponed until the end of war in Ukraine.

The artist profile in the Burlington Contemporary magazine, July 27, 2022
“With the Russian invasion in February 2022, Kakhidze’s art became more radical. Her critique of the war continues to be enacted through a personal lens, however her anti-colonialist narratives are more explicit and her reference points are wider, articulating the violence and imminent danger that characterize life for so many in Ukraine.” (Svitlana Biedarieva, Burlington Contemporary, July 27, 2022)

Facebook
Instagram

Georgia
Tbilisi
Multimedia

Artist and activist Mishiko Sulakauri’s practice focuses on engaging in deep dialogues with local communities. His research explores critical issues that transcend histories, borders, power dynamics, environmental and social struggles. His work questions systems of consumption, production, and human interaction recognizing our failure as a global society.

During his ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), the central idea of Mishiko’s research project into both environmental and sociological issues was focused on the trans-border experience and how it affects different species – people, insects and plants. Mishiko, in collaboration with his US host organization Unlisted Projects, engaged with artistic, scientific, and gardening communities in the construction of a wall near the South Texas border with Mexico.

Unlike the populist idea of isolationism, this wall’s purpose was to create a transitional oasis for the monarch butterflies, offering a regenerative habitat for their migration from Mexico to Canada. The wall-installation cradles milkweed plants, now an endangered species due to genetic modification of this poisonous yet decorative plant. The natural milkweed is the only source of nutrients for the monarch larvae. The installation went up in October 2021 in different locations in and around Austin.

Website

Slovenia
Ljubljana
Music

Slovenian singer, songwriter and musician Katja Šulc works with poetry and music.  Her expression is focused on setting poetry to music and storytelling through songs. Her work embraces contemporary folk, exploring modern and traditional poetry and endangered languages and cultures. Katja’s recent album KAMLISAJLAN (2016) is based on Rromani poetry from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, while her new album CARICIAS (2021) pays tribute to Mexican poetry, including traditional and indigenous poems.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies), Katja researches Native American culture, history, values and beliefs. She is dedicating her residency in the US to foster a deep dialogue with Native American artists and communities. Katja draws a parallel between Native American culture and Pre-Christian culture in Slovenia, the Old believers, the secret pagan society that existed in Slovenian remote places until late 1960’s. The parallel lies in a strong connection to nature and in deep respect for natural forces.

Katja Šulc and her US host organization Institute of American Indian Arts pay homage to Native American heritage. Fusing traditional and contemporary art, the project intertwines with Native American artists’ culture, focusing on human values and ecology issues. Katja’s project is based on artistic collaborations, poetry, performance, visuals and composition, planned to be released during the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (UNESCO, 2022 – 2032).

Website
Facebook
Instagram

Estonia
Tallinn
Multidisciplinary

Artist and curator Ann Mirjam Vaikla works at the intersection of art practice and arts management. With a background in the performing arts, Ann’s work includes scenography and directing. She served as the Director of the Narva Art Residency (NART), a unique cultural platform facilitating residencies, art exhibitions, talks and educational workshops in Narva on the Estonian-Russian border.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residencies at Triangle Arts Association and Grand Central Art Center), Ann Mirjam’s research departed from her own ancestry touching upon the notions of migration, embodiment and body as an archive. It incorporated collecting imagery from various sites (waterfronts of New York City and Jersey City and Port of Los Angeles) and meetings with artists, curators, and historians and other professionals in the field. The collected information and materials will be used for a future art project with the working title Where The Fun Never Sets.

Website
Facebook
Instagram

Egypt
Alexandria
Theater

Cultural manager, researcher, consultant and theater performer, Iman Zaki co-founded Reflection for Arts, a training and development organization in Alexandria, Egypt in 2007. The organization provides space and support for visual and performing artists and promotes the role of the arts in community development. Her work experience ranges from cultural management and facilitation to curating and producing work that investigates oppression, sexual harassment and domestic violence among other social issues, with a focus on personal transformation and the use of theater and other art practices as tools for social change. Deeply concerned by governmental censorship, a lack of adequate funding and the rejection of contemporary methodologies in local academic art schools, Iman recently opened a school for emerging artists.

During her ArtsLink International Fellowship 2020 (virtual and in-person residency), Iman conducted her research in the United States’ heart of independent theater, the legendary La MaMa Experimental Theater Club. Working closely with Artistic Director, Mia Yoo, Iman explored the unique theater scene of New York’s East Village and beyond. As a cradle of the off-Broadway theater, La MaMa E.T.C. opened broad opportunities for Iman to expand her professional network, create new connections and develop further cultural exchanges between New York and Alexandria, Egypt.

Website
Twitter