Non-registered Art Communities

Non-registered Art Communities is a project supported by Tandem Turkey in collaboration with Hayy Open Space (Turkey), Yıldız Çintay Art Group (Turkey), Va Space (Iran), and Kaarnamaa (Iran). The project focuses on discussions and research about collective working and non-registered art organisations; such as art initiatives, collectives, and artist-run spaces through research, seminars, workshops and roundtable talks.

Hayy open space round table
Hayy open space round table

Non-registered Art Communities is a project that has started at the Partner Forum of the fifth round of Tandem Turkey in Tbilisi. During introduction presentations, the process of matchmaking and slow dating with other participants, we: Kaarnamaa and Va as sister organisations from Iran and Hayy Open Space and Yildiz Cintay as sister organisations from Turkey, found each other a right match to come up with an idea for a collaboration project.

Artist survival kit workshop in Isfahan.
Artist survival kit workshop in Isfahan.

Our interests in critical thinking about our art scene in order to build up infrastructure, parallel to our skills in writing, artistic studies, and cultural management appeared to us as potentials of possibilities of starting a project together. After the Partner Forum to found a common ground and get familiar with one another, we scheduled Study Visits in Isfahan, Tehran, Izmir and Istanbul; during which in Iran and Turkey, we visited several artist studios, art initiatives, commercial galleries, non-profit art spaces.

Temporary group workshops in Tehran
Temporary group workshops in Tehran

After the study visit, through regular Skype meetings, we decided to concentrate on empowering non-profits, artist-run spaces, and independent organizations under the title of Non-registered Art Communities, due to similarities of the economic and sociopolitical climate of Iran and Turkey and the urgency to work collectively. During the Reflection and Kick-off meetings in Belgrade, our project was evaluated to be continued. We decided to hold a series of workshops titled “Artist Survival Kit” in Izmir, Isfahan and Tehran, about working independently as an artist and in three public free sessions we shared knowledge about writing a CV, a Biography, setting up a Portfolio next to seminars and workshops with invited professionals on artist rights, and how to apply for Funds and Artist Residencies, focusing also on proposal writing and organising, communication in art, production and design in the art field and finally how to combine some of these skills in an artist talk. The “Artist Survival Kit” functions for artists who want to work independently and expand their career professionally, globally and/or independently, hosted by Aknoon gallery in Isfahan, and by Hayy Open Space in Izmir. 16 participants attended the workshop in Isfahan.

Team discussion on project During kick-off Meeting in Belgrade
Team discussion on project During kick-off Meeting in Belgrade

During these workshops and after that, on both sides of Turkey and Iran, we have started research to find out more about the artist collectives and non-profits and their problematics. We visited around 25 non-registered art initiatives and art collectives in Turkey and/or invited to roundtable talks in Izmir and Istanbul, we have researched the mechanisms of the collectives in Turkey and merged the content of these different methods in 5 published articles and related documents on the subject.

interview with Mohammad Hamze as a representative of Movazi collective for oral history project in Iran. Photo by Samira Hashemi.
interview with Mohammad Hamze as a representative of Movazi collective for oral history project in Iran. Photo by Samira Hashemi.

Since in Iran there is little evidence on collectives, we have put our research into practice and collected the history via the oral history of the past and current collectives through focus interviews. From a developing list of collectives from the 60s to the present in Iran, we managed to interview 20 artist collectives, art historians, and artist-run spaces in Tehran and Isfahan and form the interviews in oral history format to be published on our websites.

Our study visit in Iran, Isfahan. Photo by Samira Hashemi.
Our study visit in Iran, Isfahan. Photo by Samira Hashemi.

During round tables between different artist collectives in Iran and Turkey, we created a platform for the collectives for dialogue to share their methods, we invited Istanbul and Izmir collectives via Skype to share their experiences with the Iranian audience. 48 people attended our event at the New media society in Tehran. In Turkey, around 80 people attended the seminars/workshops, done 3 roundtable talks, one of them was public and in Iran, we hold two public round tables with over 17 collectives under the title of the project.

Our study visit in Turkey, Izmir
Our study visit in Turkey, Izmir

Parallel to these events we tried to create a network in Turkey and Iran to be aware of each other’s events, projects, to interact, collaborate and to act with solidarity; practically and financially. To form this practice in a tangible way while in Iran we studied a newborn collective in Tehran with 11 members, Temporary Collective, attending the regular weekly meetings and creating workshops for them on how to work collectively, in Izmir we created an emailing network between collectives to share their calendar, events and guest speakers/professionals to inform each other and use their sources in collaboration.

Workshop in Izmir
Workshop in Izmir

The closing meeting in Berlin was the final part for presenting the project but we still want to continue our activity in the future due to the potential offered by Hayy Open Space as a physical space for collectives, Kaarnamaa magazine as a critical platform to talk about collectivity, Yildiz Cintay as an artist-run project which works independently and Va space as an art space and residency program for curatorial projects.

We have gained public attention on this subject and have empowered existing collectives while trying to enrich our research in the history of collectivity and finally make a stronger bridging between collectives in Iran and Turkey to learn about each other and our potentials.