Reflections on my month in Berlin as a TAKT artist in residence.
I recently arrived back in Yangon and am back in my studio working on my fine art, multimedia animation Lucky as well as teaching for Thalun International School (student work), University For Peace (Costa Rica), MYPOL, and Myanmar Metropolitan College.
I meant to write about my awesome experience in Berlin back in June but was so busy the entire time, it had to wait until I had a chance to catch my breath. So here goes:
The Studio, Neighborhood, and Program
The TAKT Residency Program is 1-3 months of artist critiques, life drawing, artist talks, individual mentoring, Berlin studio visits and a curated group exhibition. TAKT hosts a variety of artists looking for diversity, across all mediums, and ranging from the emerging to the established. They promote a structure to focus, engage, and work.
Upon arrival I was given the keys to my studio and apartment and got to meet the other artists through group critiques, show openings, special events, and studio visits.
One difficulty I had however was that even though my sons’ grandparents live in Berlin, they were in ill health and therefore I felt it would be better to let them rest and take my sons with me every day. My husband was unable to leave Yangon and join us for about two weeks, so it was a bit intense trying to get settled in, keep my sons entertained and busy, meet the other artists, attend the events and classes, plan my talk, plan the group show, and actually get my own work done.
Thankfully, Antje who runs the residency was more than welcoming to my sons and even had suggestions for babysitting. It wasn’t easy to juggle my own goals for the residency plus family duties, but somehow it all worked out. And thanks to the fact I was also spending every evening plus weekends with my in-laws without my husband around for a few weeks, my German language skills blossomed!
I had studied some German years ago but after living for years in Italy and now Myanmar, it had been in hibernation somewhere in my brain. This trip changed all that and I actually felt pretty comfortable for maybe the first time, communicating in German! The residency itself is actually in English, but being able to speak German allowed me to at least comfort my elderly taxi driver the moment Germany found itself suddenly out of the World Cup. (That was a sad day indeed in Germany…)
I especially enjoyed seeing what the other artists were working on. From intricate 3D installations, sound performances, painting, to animation, video, printmaking, and dance, I relished learning about the ways other artists work in their various mediums. And thanks to their feedback, I got the first impressions of my own animation in progress which was instrumental in being able to move forward.
As for my own work, I don’t normally animate scenes in chronological order, but somehow it made sense to focus on getting the first minute and a half of my animated documentary, Lucky in order for the Something Lost show.
This is what I finally completed and now back in Yangon, I am ready to pick up where I left off.
The whole residency went by in just a few short weeks. Then it was off to the US where I met with family and friends as well as traveled to South Carolina to interview the subject of my animation to bring the film up to 2018.
The experience at TAKT made me interested in participating in future residencies in other parts of the world (though I’d come back to Berlin in a heartbeat…) and it also helped bring my animation project to a place where I finally had enough footage to show for applying for upcoming grants and fellowships.
All in all, not a bad way to spend part of my summer.
My animation in progress, Lucky will next be showing in the international juried exhibition, Artist and Location 2018 at Czong Institute for Contemporary Art (CICA Museum) in South Korea, December 14-30, 2018.