TransCultural Exchange Announces Global Conference 2013

Hosted by Boston University - October 10 -13

By: - Jul 01, 2012

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TransCulturalExchange, under the direction of Mary Sherman, has been active in the Boston area since 1998. A goal of each conference on International Opportunities in the Arts, since 2007, has been to bring together and connect world-wide artists with artists or artists with organizations, universities and communities, as well as promoting inter-organizational work. Further, to advance art and culture, global education, peace and friendship.

We asked Lynne Allan, Director of the School of Visual Arts, at Boston University to comment, and she replied as follows: “The College of Fine Arts is enormously pleased to host the October 2013 TransCultural Exchange Conference on Boston University campus. Most events will take place within easy reach of each other, in the 808 Gallery and the George Sherman Union on Commonwealth Avenue. We will utilize the large Metcalf Ballroom and ancillary seminar spaces and auditorium. The area is convenient to local restaurants, the MBTA and in walking distance to the designated conference hotel, The Hyatt Regency, and other area hotels. The location on the Charles River offers scenic views and lovely walking paths right on campus.”

The TransCultural Exchange website has posted an overview on the upcoming conference and will update periodically. In advance of the conference there are already many events planned in the Boston area, also for early arriving conference attendees. Some events and panel presentations will be scheduled at other universities, as during prior conferences.

Individuals, organizations and universities have hosted artists in many different ways for decades. TransCultural Exchange (TCE) highlighted these many activities and has introduced individuals and representatives of countless programs and projects since the 2007conference. We are offering examples of only a slice of international possibilities here, as TCE has opened opportunities to registrants and participants to connect and interconnect as never before.

It was during a symposium in Romania by Dorothea Fleiss and east-west-artists E.V. that the idea for a conference first surfaced. The Fleiss-Association is based in Stuttgart, Germany, but they will hold their 14th symposium in August in Carei-Bobald in Romania, which is Dorothea’s native country. Fleiss held her first symposium in 1998 in Romania, and has since hosted or co-hosted symposia/residencies yearly there; also in Austria, China, Germany, Hungary and in the village of Paraza, South of France. We attended Paraza and published articles about our experiences in 2010. What a glorious time, where the entire village of 565 inhabitants had a chance to come together in friendship!

This year, Fleiss invited 30 artists from twelve countries, who are arriving from as far away as China, Japan, and Nepal, from the USA and several West and East European countries. Two registrants from the 2011 TCE conference from New York will attend the symposium. Artists will bring their own special supplies; basic materials will be available on location. They will share large facilities as studios and dormitories and work and eat together in harmony. (Well, that of course, is the hope!)  Evenings will be filled with artist’s presentations and other events to which the surrounding population is always invited. A major goal for residencies in general is to connect participants with each other and further interactions, understanding and friendship with local communities.

Fleiss will have several assistants to help with housing and meals. She believes in feeding her artists well and dinner parties are marvelous occasions! This year, day trips will include a visit to 14th century cloisters in the region of Maramures. And the symposium will end with an exhibition at the art museum, Museul de Arta, in Satu-Mare nearby. The quality of the work in different media will be high, inventive and fun. That observation is based on prior experiences.

Fleiss will also co-sponsor the second European International Book Art Biennale (EIBAB), in August, at the Museum of Art in Satu-Mare. Approximately 120 entries will be exhibited. Collaborators are the Book Art Museum in Lodz, Poland and the Polish Artist Union, Book Art Section; SILVIERA, Italy and TCE, USA.

The Satu Mare Museum will present the exhibition. EIBAB’s website features the prize winning entries of 2010, which are quite spectacular: Antal Annamaria, Romania, won the Grand Prize with her artwork of an old typewriter perched on a pedestal, out of which a series, 30 or more, interconnected scrolls were flowing. The first prize went to Helen Malone, Australia, who submitted an art book in the form of a circular fan in black and white and large texts. The second prize was won by Salvador Menjibar, Spain, for his entry of an art book construction. Few limitations are set for submission and the 2012 exhibition should garner downright extravagant work! 

Two exhibitions, works from the residency and the Art Book Biennale, will open simultaneously and should result in a wonderful celebration for the entire region.

For 2012 Fleiss is also preparing the 6th DFEWA Residency in Mallnitz, Kaernten/ Austria, in October. It has been primarily an artist retreat for sculptors. Then, it is no wonder, that Dorothea, who is truly a global artist and art phenomenon, has attracted a filmmaker to chronicle her life, work and activities. She invited the filmmaker to attend the Romanian symposium and will begin recording her life, artwork and projects. Of course, there are already exhibitions and residencies planned for 2013.

Ellen Schön is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and teaches art and ceramics at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. She published an article with us at Berkshire Fine Arts in February, 2012, after she returned from a two week long art festival in Sasaran, Kuala Selangor, Malaysia. Prior to this adventure, she participated in symposia in Scandinavia, East and West Europe. More than 50 artists from 16 countries actually worked in Malaysia, and left some of their artwork for a museum, art community and the general public. She reported vividly about her travels and life there.

Schön recently returned from a Hungarian symposium at the Kendlimajor Art Center in the village of Kisrecse, near Nagykanizsa. The village and art center is located in the region of the ‘Hungarian Big Sky,’ approximately two hours south of Budapest. Schön worked at the art center together with some ‘old friends’ and some newly acquired friends and colleagues, and so she and her colleagues meet and work hard in temporary communities like a big family. This was  her 8th residency !

The Kendlimajor Art Center celebrated its 20th International Art Symposium in May, which lasted for two weeks and was named the Ludvig Symposium. Ellen wrote that: “Klara and Zoltan Ludvig have dedicated their lives to create a wonderful place for artists to work and live together. Along with sponsors and friends, Gabor and Erzsebet Wilheim, and Laszlo and Angie Pali, the Ludvigs also run the place as a cultural center with musical performances and art classes for adults and children.”

35 artists came from Japan, USA and from many European countries. For exchange of room and board, some art supply and the possibility to work intensely with other artists, they donated three pieces of their work to the sponsors. The symposium opened with ceremonies by the mayor of the district and ended in a beautiful exhibition. Not all is work! A thermal hot springs resort in the vicinity, in Zalakaros, allowed for relaxation and the group also visited the International Ceramics Center in Kecskemet and in Pecs the famous Zsolnay Porcelain Museum. It holds The Art Nouveau Ceramics Collection.

Schön experimented with colored clay, which she ordered from Austria and had actually worked with before and so was able to produce a lot of new work. It was shipped to the US and will be seen this September during her solo exhibition at Vessels Gallery in Boston.

Ellen and I wrote these lines, while we were working on her February article: “We leave small parts of us and positive imprints and memories, wherever we visit in the world. That is part of why we travel near and far. - Thus, we also receive others’ small parts and positive imprints and memories, as we travel the world.”

Karmela Berg, a noted Israeli artist, lives and works in Tel-Aviv and all over the world. We met at the 2011 TCE conference. At the time she introduced me to her project: ‘Knowing You Knowing Me,’ conceived as group exhibitions by four artists. Other members of the group are from Sweden, The Netherlands and India. The exhibitions are largely educational, with a student art making component, and easily mobile, as one can see in the accompanying photos. The shows were installed in 2010-11 in Uppsala, Sweden, the Hampden Gallery of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, in conjunction with the 2011 TCE Conference, and Groningen, The Netherlands. This project will still be exhibited in Israel and India, to conclude the cycle.

In 2012 Berg and some members of her group of artist friends, traveled to ‘Huntenkunst’ in Ulft, Holland, near the German border. It is a yearly event and approximately 200 national and international artists participated. 4000 visitors came mostly from Holland and Germany. A large former factory complex was refurbished into an exhibition hall, a library, a theatre and a music center. There are also new artist studios and a restaurant.

Exhibiting artists of this juried show, brought work in many media and arrived to prepare their own installations. 60 % were international artists, and opportunities for world-wide communications, connections and friendships are part of the deal. Artists were available to the visitors, answering questions, and to meet curators and gallery owners. Berg and her sub-group: Aldrik Salverda from The Netherlands, Eva Ryn Johannisen from Sweden, Leny van Elk, also from The Netherlands and Brigitte Gmachreich from Germany actually met there intensely to discuss and design a new project.

They held their own five day symposium, which was well planned in advance. Berg writes: "We enjoyed our brain-storming sessions, and the company of artists in planning, thinking and eating together. Those were five beautiful days." The new exhibition’s title could be (or not): ‘Nature to People is Like Water to Fish,’ and will be presented in The Netherlands in May, 2013. The concept is based on A.D. Gordon’s abbreviated writings and translation from Hebrew: “...Man must always be in nature, because he is Man. To Man, who is sensitive and aware, nature is like water to the fish.” Discussions about concept and work are continuing long distance and via email.

Berg also introduced several artists in Holland to ‘The Coaster Project, Destination: The World’ of 2012, where thousands of coaster size artworks (4x4” or 10x10cm) will be freely given away at the Toronto Culture Work Festival. The 2012 project celebrates the 10th anniversary of TCE’s Coaster Project of 2002. Her artist friends have already sent small works to this year’s Coaster Project. She also hopes that more of her international colleagues will participate in the 2013 TCE conference in Boston.

As Dorothea Fleiss and her group and family are old hands at organizing and sponsoring symposia, Elisabeth Ochsenfeld, her husband Hartwig Ochsenfeld and their association held a first residency ‘Arthouse Wolfsberg’  in July 2011 in Garana, in the Carparthian Mountains of Western Romania. The group of artists left wonderful impressions and memories in the village. Ochsenfeld, like Fleiss, is of German-Romanian ancestry and both immigrated to Germany in their 20s. No wonder, that we all became fast acquainted and friends at the 2009 TCE conference.

Elisabeth writes: “Had I not attended the 2009 conference, I would have never had the courage and self-awareness to go ahead and achieve my projects.” The couple also invites artists of many media for weeklong stays and cultural immersion at their homes in Germany, in Frankfurt/Main, and Heidelberg. Ross Donlon, an Australian writer, has been in residency in Heidelberg this June.

Ochsenfeld’s 2012 symposium in July will have 17 artists attending from Europe and the USA. They are five writers and twelve visual artists. This year’s symposium is titled: Tristesia – Paraphernalia – Memorabilia. She seeks to remember and retain German roots in the region - customs and a way of life - which are slowly dying out with the passing of the older population. There are also long-term plans to open a museum with an art collection representing the village’s ethnographical richness.

So, participants will create together work that may be inspired by Garana, its aging (and young) population, and the wide and beautiful landscape of mountains, rivers, birches and endless views.

A yearly Jazz Festival, still growing in importance, will also be held in the nearby town of Timisoara in July, to which Charles Giuliano contributed an exhibition of Jazz Greats Photo Portraits in 2011, which Ochsenfeld curated. The works remained in the area.

TransCultural Exchange sponsored the first global exhibition in 2002, titled ‘The Coaster Project, Destination: The World.' The show traveled lightly from March to May 2002 to all continents. A total of 10,000 art-coasters were given away at bars, cafes and restaurants.

This year’s 10th anniversary exhibition of The Coaster Project will happen at Toronto’s 2012 Culture Works Festival. The original participants of the project and everyone around the globe were invited to submit a 4 x 4” (or 10 x 10 cm) art-work, which will be exhibited and visitors are welcome to take a piece home or exchange one with their own small work. Again, many thousands of exchanges will take place and, as Mary Sherman wrote: ”After all, the best things in life are free.”