Connecting Local Art Scenes with European Issues: a Tandem Mobility Story

As part of Tandem Turkey, Katarzyna Sobucka co-organised and co-curated an extensive three-part residency and exhibition series, Non-Static Depiction, that rethink the role of folklore and traditional art in contemporary practice. She recently received a Tandem Mobility grant to do research on rethinking business models, communities and more within the cultural sector in Greece and Germany.

My Tandem Alumni mobility was a research initiative involving visits to Athens and Berlin and connecting with local art scene and like-minded organisations. The research was grounded on the task to connect small independent practitioners across Europe and jointly applying for EACEA funding. We wanted to meet, discuss, brainstorm, plan, and present our current and future projects. Understanding how we work was also an important factor together with studying the different business / survival models and understanding each country’s arts scene and our respective art funding structures and streams. Via the State of Concept in Athens, as well as via the ZKU and Berlin Session Residency in Berlin, we pertained to critical and innovative business models emerging in Greece and Berlin.

The research also explored and deciphered how communities are best engaged with by small arts organisations and individuals. The research involved attending exhibitions and events, in addition to carrying out studio visits with local artists, and visiting other Tandem Alumni individuals and organizations operating nearby. One of the organisations I met was the Snehta Residency, Athens. We discussed how to understand and mimic these new modes of supporting artistic production and engaging audiences and participants. Snehta’s high level of engagement with the local area of Kypseli and its collaboration with Fokionos Negri via commissioning, residencies and public art engagement programmes were especially notable. Fokionos is a pedestrianized road which is a key part of the neighbourhood of Kypseli, where Snehta is based.

Another extremely inspiring meeting was with Matina Magkou of UrbanDig Project, who also often operates in the Fokionos area. Martina introduced me to heir engagement with the area of Fokionos that is ongoing and innovative in design and approach. UrbanDig is a not for profit platform, created by OhiPezoume Performing Arts Company. It focuses on the interaction between audience engagement and city mapping practices which and makes urban site-specific performances on the streets and the public spaces. The organisation works to boost voice for a plethora of opinion and commentary relating to the city at large. UrbanDig looks into public spaces and asks how they can become places of authentic self-expression; artist-public interactions are a key aspect of these spatially orientated projects. It uses a variety of spaces, and a vast range of forms of engagement, running projects and programmes targeted at specific localities, and using the local squares and streets to enhance public participation.


With my mobility partners and other organizations I visited, we also worked on the development of a new project entitled Nation Reimagined. This is a transnational, multi-stranded activity which investigates current issues relating to mobility, migration and multinational identities. It consists of a series of cultural and educational events and socially engaging artistic residencies. Together with Art Transparent from Wrocław we are working on collaborative bids for Europe for Citizens and EACE grants to grow this project. We plan to develop a programme that aligns with all the participating organisations’ respective philosophies. Through exhibitions, symposia, community-based and educational outreach projects and programme employing socially engaged artistic residencies, this project seeks to explore how culture, throughout what is a pan-European and multifaceted migration crisis that accompanies weakening European integration, can contribute to the development of a sustainable society.

During my mobility some core themes of ambition with both Europe-relevant and wider ramifications have been established i.e.: to improve the understanding of today’s migration between European countries, discussing Euroscepticism, the recently growing questioning of freedom of movement, and the future of the EU; to include a debate over the concept of ‘home’ and ‘national identity, to challenge the ideas of migration and intercultural co-existence and to learn of its history, to fight stigma, to work against racism and xenophobia, and to promote tolerance and democratic citizenship.

The rationale behind my in-person travel was to enable the participants to develop meaningful ideas and thereby high quality funding applications, benefitting from face to face dialogue and in-depth deliberation. The goal was achieved and we are currently working to make these ideas happen.