The Artist-in-Residence


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Artist-in-residence programmes at Australian universities occupy a vital, but largely undefined position in tertiary art education. While widely acknowledged as offering broad positive value for both artists and their university host communities, the specifics of residency programmes rarely appear as research topics, despite the current vogue for theories of 'relational aesthetics'. In 2007 eminent Indonesian artist Heri Dono completed a seven-week residency programme at Adelaide’s University of South Australia, culminating in a major exhibition. Unlike conventional residencies, this ambitious, cross-institutional, cross-cultural and collaborative enterprise actively involved staff and students across four visual art and performing art institutions. Given the demanding parameters imposed by space, bureaucracy and budget, as well as a related ‘adverse aviation incident’ that precipitated a curatorial crisis, the project took on unexpectedly new dimensions. In fact, the challenging circumstances expanded the scope of how a residency and exhibition might be approached; in this case, providing a workable model of alternative practice for art students, academic and technical staff, and local artists. The case study explores different strategies of collaboration between the visiting ‘trans-national’ artist and the local community that transcend conventional paradigms of individualistic and Eurocentric art practice. Drawing upon discourses of relational aesthetics, the study suggests that deeper understandings of social and artistic transactions can effectively assist collaborative endeavour in and beyond tertiary art colleges.