Artists story Marina Chichava | Mozambique
Mozambique | 10.6.2020
Through an inspiring conversation with multidisciplinary artist Va-Bene Elikem Fiatsi (best known as “crazinisT artisT”) we discovered the organization and passion behind perfocraZe International Artist Residency, in Kumasi, Ghana.
Being an underground project since 2014, pIAR experimented for the first time as an international collective performance in 2015 hosted in the evocative slave dungeon of Elmina Castle. “As the founder, I have ever since been working on a space for the establishment of this project until its official inaugural edition in 2019, which hosted 30 participants from more than 15 countries” – states crazinisT artisT. Every year the residency plans to run from January until August and host a maximum of 8 artists per section for at least 4 weeks. Unfortunately, the latter edition has been suspended after the March section due to COVID19, but the next one is already on the move for 2021 (for which the call of application will be open from August until October 2020). In the meantime, pIAR itself is not on hold: “Nevertheless, we have created an alternative platform known as pIAR Virtual Studio Tour to promote active engagement of artists who are willing to share their stories, experiences, and projects during confinement”.
What inspired the initiative?
Va-Bene Elikem artistic practice has always been driven by the urgency for social change towards the creation of safe spaces that would allow cultural exchange and activism within the arts. It is striking how there are only a few and very competitive opportunities for emerging African artists to experience, discuss and physically share their works and knowledge with a Euro-American counterpart. Therefore, pIAR main aim is to create a free informal education and socio-cultural exchange that widely promotes transnational artistic development and collaborations by contributing to the expansion of vibrant art communities in Ghana and beyond. However, there are some obstacles to it: crazinisT artisT has been the witness of the growth of extreme homophobia. While preparing for the launching of the residency in 2017 the landlord nearly withdraw because of the pressure in accommodating a queer and transgender person.
“I have always thought of creating a home for all, a revolutionary community for artists/activists, a lab for queer/ers, an incubator and hatchery for performers, filmmakers, video artists and so on, regardless of their gender, sex and race. These thoughts provoked the need to initiate a residency of this kind hoping to positively affect the system.”
How does the selection of artists work?
pIAR welcomes any artist or curator whose work draws from performativity (performance, photography, virtual reality, theatre, sound, film, installation, storytelling, music, dance,…). Artists are selected by their availability during the selected month of participation, but most importantly by their willingness and motivation. Each artist portfolio, statement, biography and CV are reviewed in order to define which groups or artists can work in the same section for the most productive collaboration and engagement.
How is the relationship with the local community?
Since 2019, pIAR has been able to bring together some members of the community to the “space-band” and engage them in several exhibitions and artistic events. In January 2020 love fEAST was launched, an annual event to welcome all members of the community in the celebration of a new beginning that promotes network and connections between artists and community. In this respect, crazinisT artisT shares the hope to educate the community through various events and projects and the will to create a decisive revolution.