Sira is a virtual residency that acts like salt: it allows for seemingly disparate parts to find each other and crystallise into forms of their own making. This residency aims to bring artists into an experimental collaboration with each other and their own environments. Working with difference, artists selected are from differing disciplines based around the islands and continents nearby Madagascar. Through finding common salt that bonds, Sira aims to experiment with alternative ways of composing engagements in this region, despite language barriers, country borders and disciplinary divides. Sira is an experiment in composition that looks to difference as much as it questions how to occupy the same space.
Salt moves through our environment and bonds us to it. It is eroded from rocks and flows down rivers into the sea where it lays trapped until it is lifted up by water molecules that are evaporating into the atmosphere, at which point it is left behind. Finally freed, the salt drifts onto land where it becomes a part of our everyday environment. We collect salt for everything from cosmetics to healing and we consume it with our meals, each culture finds their own uses. Salt exists inside our bodies at the same equivalent as it does in sea water (around 0.4 percent), and when we cry, a tiny bit of it escapes again. Perhaps one of the most incredible qualities of salt is how it acts when it has been freed. When salt travels through the environment it has the ability to find itself again and once it lands on a surface it begins to gather and crystallise, growing in strength that can crack through even the toughest of rocks.
It is in this spirit that Sira acts.
During the residency the artists will find each other’s work and grow into it by responding to it. This finding and responding will continue in a limitless way, allowing the works to crystallize and mound into dynamic shapes of their own. To begin with, each artist will make an initial piece, or a series of works, that expresses their own local environment in some way (social gathering spots, the moods of the weather, intimate experiences etc). These initial artworks will then be shared into the collective studio space. This will then give the other artists an opportunity to find the initial artworks, download them and then begin to work into them however they choose. These new round of responses will also be shared in the studio, ready for another round of responses. All the artworks added to the studio will be available for edit as much as the artists desire until the end of the residency. The artists will not create any other new works to add, they will only work with what has grown from their original pieces. In this way, the initial works put forward by the artists that relate to their environments will continue to grow throughout the residency, mutating, crystallising and mounding into collaborative shapes.
The Sira residency encourages the differences that the artists bring (practice/environment) to exist in a shared space together. Ultimately, Sira houses experimental ways for such differences to mound and shape together.
Alongside the residency, Sira will also gather and share some knowledge about that filters through it. Part of the work for the curator is to draw out and document the different practices and environments of the participating artists while reflecting on their experimental collaborations together. The curator will archive these findings in their own experimental ways through a ‘curators response’ in the form of a written, visual or sonic essay/lecture. This growing archive of curators responses will be available to all on the La Teinturerie website and Africa Nosy Art Echange website.
Sira is initiated by La Teinturerie and is conceptualised and supported by the Africa Nosy Art Echange. This programme is supported by an ANT Mobility Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).