The Artist-in-Residence as Cultural Mediator

  • Abstract:

    The number of temporary live-work spaces in the world called “artist residencies” (including some “colonies” and other designations) has grown phenomenally over the last two decades. In 2013 alone, residencies hosted tens of thousands of artists. These places provide temporary space for artists to live and work away from home, usually through a selective process. As well as being sources for inspiration, this global web of residencies can have a wide-ranging ethical and mediating effect through contact between visiting artists and their host cultures. In this paper, a philosophy of translation illuminates how the artist-in-residence—in the singular capacity of being an artist—might help dismantle paradigms of exclusion while establishing a pluralistic consciousness. This investigation primarily utilizes theories of Homi Bhabha and Richard Kearney to showcase how the artist-in-residence has potential as a unique catalyst of positive global change, participating in the constitution of inter-cultural subject formation. Then Paul Ricoeur’s concepts of translation capture the deeper process that integrates the artist’s ethical encounter with the “other” by modeling a comprehensive, hermeneutic understanding of inter-subjectivity.