April 2023 till September 2025
PROSPER: PROtotype for Sustainable residencies in PERipheries
Peripheries are places of solidarity that partners in PROSPER aim to explore by creating connections between environmentally vulnerable regions, through a series of transnational cultural collaborations.
The main priorities are to engage artists and local communities in two regions with major environmental significance; namely the island of Evia in Greece that suffered destructive wildfires in 2021, and Lake Ohrid in N.Macedonia, which has suffered degradation due to human activity endangering its endemic importance. Both regions are affected by COVID, where culture and tourism workers are searching for a way forward to sustainable and inclusive futures.
The objectives are to contribute to the development of models of transnational collaboration that would enable stronger connections between European artists and organizations, diversified audiences as local communities and sustainable cultural tourism sectors; as well as enhance capacity building for diversity driven project management for grassroots organizations.
PROSPER involves 5 partner organizations (LOOP, Eho Animato, Peripetija, Oyoun, and Ohrid SOS), 6 associate partners and more than 40 participants who will together create residencies, collective and mutual learning experiences between artists & local audiences, transnational co-productions in performing & visual arts, capacity building training for cultural and tourism workers and a prototype of sustainable and inclusive residencies in peripheries.
The aim is to enhance international cultural collaboration, methodologies of integrating environmental issues into artistic practice, stronger collaboration between art and tourism, empowered local audiences, visibility of European artists, and stronger capacities for more impactful projects that enable sustainable and inclusion driven project management. This aim will be presented to the public in the form of 2 residencies,1 prototype, 2 1-day festivals, 2 co-production performances, 1 exhibition, 1 audiowalk, 2 publications, 12 workshops, 5 capacity building trainings, and 10 presentations.
On the 21st of May 2023, all partners came together in person to prepare the plan for the upcoming 2.5 years. This project is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
The partnership between the organizations, from Greece (LOOP), Serbia (Eho Animato), North Macedonia (Peripetjia and LDA Struga), and Germany (Oyoun), and the network of six associate partners across Europe, is built on the foundation of transnational collaboration between a diverse group of European artists and cultural workers, as well as going beyond known borders of the sector and including sustainable tourism organizations. This consortium will expand on new models of transnational collaboration through a series of cultural activities that will span across 30 months. Co-creation and development of new models of sustainable and inclusive creative work (environmentally, economically, creatively, and socially) are inherently present in the way the open calls, residencies and co-productions in the PROSPER project are designed; and all co-productions are co-creations by the transnational groups of artists and cultural workers who will exchange their models and strategies of work in their respective fields. Dissemination and presentation of the results of PROSPER will be realized in all partner countries, but also through the network of associate partners that includes festivals and other actors in the local scenes of European countries, creating impact well across Europe, spreading further than just the partner countries.
All of the artistic activities are rooted in the local contexts of the places where the long-term residencies in Evia and Lake Ohrid will take place. This local context is very much defined by the current environmental strain that the regions are experiencing. In line with the New European Bauhaus and in partnership with PHALA (Panhellenic Association of Landscape Architects - associate partner), PROSPER aims to raise awareness about the urgency of sustainable choices for the two main areas selected to host the residencies, and use them as case studies in order to develop a new prototype model for sustainable long-term artistic residencies in peripheries.
Both Evia and Lake Ohrid represent common types of natural degradation that we experience globally and more frequently than ever before. The wildfires that took place in 2021 in Evia, a recurring global phenomenon in warm regions due to climate change, caused loss of natural habitats for insects, birds, and larger animals; dangers of erosion causing irreversible problems with topsoil fertility which are vital for the reforestation and return of agricultural practice; and, effects of erosion on adjacent marine habitats with large mass of sediments. The actions and decisions taken in the first years after a wildfire can have a magnified effect on landscape reclamation; and there is an urgent need for sustainable management of the landscape to recover the financial opportunities of the local rural communities that depend on it.
Lake Ohrid, on the other hand is a UNESCO world heritage site with a unique ecosystem not only because of its high biodiversity and significance for migrating species, but also because of its large number of endemic species - species found only there. Lake Ohrid wetland habitats have recorded a constant decrease in recent times, mostly because of agriculture and urban development. The increased human activity in the region with larger towns, intense commercial fishing and increasing touristic development adds problems with pollution and higher risk of eutrophication and endangers the balance of the already shrunk natural habitat. The urgency applies here since decreases in biodiversity are hard to overturn, at the same time endangering the habitat of endemic species can have irreversible effects, even extinction.
The open call for the selection of the participating artists for the two residencies in Evia and Lake Ohrid will enable the creation of an international group of 16 artists that will directly engage with each other, as well as with local communities and sustainable tourism actors in the peripheries. The selection of the artists will be made by the main partners with gender equality, inclusiveness, and diversity aspects in mind; participants must be able to identify as artists on the peripheries and describe how they plan to contribute to peripheries in their applications. Selected participants will be provided research methodology workshops that focus on the environmental aspects of the local context. This will not only enhance the intercultural but also the multidisciplinary aspects of the project, emphasizing on environmental and ecological awareness, while promoting sustainability throughout the course of the residency in practical day to day terms. A key objective within the residencies is to inspire artists to find connections between their artistic practice, the fragile environment they are inhabiting, and the people who live there. This will contribute to the development of a new methodology of environmentally conscious artistic practice integrated in developing sustainable residencies as a prototype.
By engaging local communities in places with an underdeveloped cultural scene, such as Evia and Lake Ohrid, PROSPER also aims to create stronger connections with new audiences and non-audiences, providing new opportunities for interaction and mutual learning. In this way we will explore long-term residencies as generators of interpersonal connections, and as motivators for inclusion through direct contact between artists and local audiences. Moreover, the tourism sector, as well as the cultural sector, are heavily affected by the Covid-19 crisis and new strategies are needed in order to achieve sustainability. Partnering with sustainable tourism organizations, PROSPER proposes new models of collaboration between culture and tourism sectors that can create new opportunities, jobs and projects.
Capacity building is also an essential part of PROSPER. Most of the main partners are grassroots micro-organizations, who have been taking part in larger projects with increasing responsibility over the past years, but lack wider institutional support. Therefore, the intention is to build capacity with larger and more established partners such as Oyoun (partner) and Pogon (associate partner), who will support the smaller organizations with their skills, experience, and expertise. Strategies of solidarity infused project management, strategies of growth for grassroots initiatives, strategies on sustainable artistic practices and tourism (which will be developed with LDA Struga), as well as development of residencies with a strong emphasis on gender and inclusiveness are the main capacity building trainings at the core of the project development. Training sessions will be open to organizations outside of the consortium interested in the topics. These collective learning practices, as well as hands-on experience while working on the project will significantly enhance capacities of all participating organizations.
Yara Asmar (Musician and Puppeteer)
Yara is a musician and puppeteer hailing from Beirut, Lebanon. Her debut album, "Home Recordings 2018-2021," recorded with a phone and tape recorder, has been described as "a truly dreamy, translucent, and amorphous album of delicate classicism, explorative percussion, and ambient" by Monolith Cocktail. Following this, her release, "Synth Waltzes & Accordion Laments," made it to Pitchfork's "30 Best Jazz and Experimental Albums of 2023," incorporating a smaller sound palette.
In a review for Cyclic Defrost, Bob Baker Fish writes, "Her music is strange, adventurous, elongated, and highly idiosyncratic, it's music that beckons you from afar and if you’re willing to get close enough will fill your soul."
The musical project by Yara Asmar will consist of a series of compositions, interviews with the local community, and a live musical performance that utilizes the lake as a musical instrument. Inspired by her upbringing in Lebanon, a country embraced by the Mediterranean Sea from the West, and observing the gradual privatization of the beach, she aims to explore and speak up about the tangible, concrete impact a body of water can have on the people living around it. The realization of the project involves the use of numerous hydrophones submerged underwater, which will then be processed through electronics to compose music through the lake.
Claudio Beorchia (Interdisciplinary artist)
He studied Design and Visual Arts at Iuav University in Venice and at the Fine Arts Academy Brera in Milan. He holds a PhD in Design Sciences from Iuav University Doctorate School.
Through commissions, awards, and residency programs, he has carried out projects and shown his works in Italy and abroad. Among the solo exhibitions: “Com sonen aquests llocs?”, Mucbe Museum, Benicarlò, Spain, 2023; “Characters and Spaces”, Artists Unlimited, Bielefeld, Germany, 2023; “Tell me a river”, K18 Gallery, Maribor, Slovenia, 2021; “Signals and Words”, XPO Gallery, Enschede, Netherlands, 2020; “Between heaven and earth”, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Milan, Italy, 2019-2020; “Aurale”, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy, 2019. He often works through residency programs. He has participated in numerous residency programs: in Italy, many European countries, China, Japan, and the United States. Among the residencies: Tides Institute, Eastport, Maine, U.S.A, 2022; Serlachius Museum, Mantta, Finland, 2018; Omi International Art Center, Ghent, New York, United States, 2017; Viborg Kunsthal, Viborg, Denmark, 2015; Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China, 2013.
During the residency, the artist will undertake a photographic project about Ohrid. This project involves the participation of residents living in houses near the lake, resulting in a photographic series that captures the environment in an intimate and domestic manner.
The artist intends to capture images of the lake from the windows of houses belonging to those residing near its shore. He aims to capture the everyday view of the lake from that window together with the person living there. Through a door-to-door approach and seeking introductions to neighbors, the artist will produce a photographic series portraying a different, more ordinary, and familiar lake/urban/domestic landscape. This stands in contrast to the exceptional, panoramic, and stereotypical views often sought by tourists, resulting in clichéd, banal, and repetitive photos. Through the relational process by which the project will be developed, the artist will try to show the bonds that unite and hold people together, and that give life to the local community living around the lake.
Selma Boskailo & Anders Ehlin
Selma Boskailo is a Berlin based curator, researcher and artist. She graduated in Art History and Comparative Literature at Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo and completed the Post- Master International Curatorial Program École du MAGASIN, Centre for Contemporary Art (Grenoble, France) where she co-curated a solo show of Liam Gillick. In 2015 she was awarded a Master of Excellence Scholarship in Media Arts Cultures, master program conducted by four international universities: Danube University, Krems (Austria), Aalborg University (Denmark), University of Lodz (Poland) and City University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong). She has collaborated as curator, curatorial assistant, researcher and artist with various institutions, festivals, galleries and contemporary art spaces in Germany, France, Austria, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Denmark and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Since 2021 she is a researcher at The New Centre for Research and Practice.
Anders Ehlin is a Berlin based, awarded composer and sound artist, mainly working in the fields of cinema, installation art and art in public space. He has a BA in Cinematology from Stockholm University and an MA in Sonic Arts from UdK Berlin. In recent years Ehlin has delved into artistic research around language, cognitive dissonance and resonating bodies. This research has solidified into a directly related sound sculptural practice, and his artworks have been exhibited at The Vitra Design Museum (Wald-am-Rein), Aperto Raum (Berlin), ZKM (Karlsruhe), RA (London) and more. His compositional practice spans from lush orchestra and choir works to immersive multi-channel compositions, blending musique concrète, cinematic scoring and modern aesthetics. Ehlin recently finished composing the protest opera Wem gehört Lauratibor against aggressive speculation on urban housing, performed as a demonstration in Berlin and at The Copenhagen Opera Festival during summer 2021. He is also the performing sound artist in the urban interventional dance project Tape Riot, having performed in places such as South Korea, Kosovo, Germany and USA. In 2021 Selma and Anders founded The New Liquidity, an interdisciplinary research platform and collective for artistic and curatorial practices. They use the term liquidity as a referential trampoline to facilitate speculation and porosity of borders as a means of artistic expression and the creation of alternative and/or potential scenarios.
Within the Prosper Residency Program, the artists will develop a hybrid site-specific soundwalk as a part of their ongoing project Underwater Cosmologies, investigating water histories. By focusing on the environmental landscape of Lake Ohrid, they will combine artistic research with acoustic ecology and immersive technology to further the understanding of aquatic biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems.
In a time of climate and ecological emergency, the duo uses binaural soundwalks to foster a critical discourse and imaginative possibilities around the current status and future of the freshwater ecosystems at a perilous moment in time. By investigating the lake as a deep archive the artists want to examine water’s fluid heritage as a place of geo-cultural and human-non-human memory.
Julia Eichler (Visual Artist)
Julia Eichler was born 1983 in Berlin, she obtained her diploma in sculpture from Burg Giebichenstein Art College in 2017 and pursued further studies under Prof. Bruno Raetsch, earning a master's degree in 2019. Her career is marked by significant achievements, including scholarships such as a 1-year grant from Stiftung Konstfonds Bonn and a 6-month scholarship under "NEUSTART KULTUR." Recognized for her sculptural talent, she got a 3 month residency at "Künstlerhäuser Worpswede". This accomplished artist's work has left a lasting impression on galleries and spaces such as Adlerhallen in Berlin, Galerie Borchardt in Hamburg, and AO Kunsthalle in Leipzig. From „Parallel Narratives“ to „Exit Flexible“, her art has resonated across various cities, showcasing her dynamic contributions to contemporary sculpture.
The artist Julia Eichler will deal with illegal buildings, ruins, and abandoned places in Ohrid and its surroundings. She will develop a negative duplicate in which parts of reality are immanent, as layers of paint and traces of material remain attached alongside the molded texture. She will play with the expectations of what a "wall" is and how it is supposed to function and oppose walls that are diametrically opposed to the original in their characteristics. These walls are made of papier-mâché. Illegal buildings, which often have their origin in a rapidly growing tourism industry, are problematic. Building ruins caused by construction stops and deconstruction work are a defining image in many places and trigger different reactions. They can be perceived as eyesores in the city or as disturbances in nature. Unsecured building materials and hazardous substances have a negative impact on the environment. Building ruins can also be understood as spaces of opportunity. A small stop in the capitalist mill. A temporarily opening space for art, graffiti, installations, encounters. But questions about longer-term communal, unconventional and non-commercial uses can also arise.
Kata Győrfi (Poet and Playwright)
Kata Győrfi is a Hungarian poet and bilingual playwright from Romanian who has been publishing for more than ten years. In 2019, her first book of poems was published under the title Te alszol mélyebben (You sleep deeper), which was nominated for the György Petri literary award and was in the top ten nominees of the Péter Horváth Literary Scholarship. Her plays in Romanian and Hungarian have been performed and translated since 2017. The poems of her next book depict a post-apocalyptic natural world. In her dramas, she is interested in loneliness, circumventing the rules of being among people, and what those people are like who for some reason do not automatically fit in, who think of themselves as a mistake in the seemingly perfect system. She is currently represented by Jelenkor Kiadó in Hungary.
My next poetry volume, "Mayfly Underground," is inspired by a sense of anxiety that I believe is globally shared. With this volume, I aim to raise questions about our responsibility toward the natural world and our own nature. I want to explore what we can allow ourselves and others to do and envision various scenarios for when the air may run out or when the ground we believed to be eternal may slip away.
The individual poems are post-human mostly non-anthropocentric world-fantasies that emerge following environmental and historical collapses. Catastrophes, geophysical, meteorological, and climatic events of recent years, such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides, droughts, forest fires, storms, and floods, inspire the visions of the future in the poems to be negative, so that the omen of fantasy worlds is primarily dystopian. The reader will perceive these as poems of a catastrophic future, with colors, materials, and phenomena that are almost familiar but not quite the same as the world we live in. In these poems, I blend lyrical reality, speculation, imagination, and factuality, weaving our collective awareness of the present world with an alternate reality that is distinctly poetic. By harmonizing science and imagination, art and poetry, we can capture public attention and spotlight the stark realities of our world’s environmental damage. This, in essence, is my creative mission.
Qafar Rzayev (Visual Artist, Performer and Multidisciplinary Artist)
Born in 1993 in the vibrant city of Ganja, Azerbaijan, this artist's journey has been a constant exploration of concepts and social engagement. After two years of university studies, the decision was made to quit the studies and focus fully on the artistic path. The ARTIMLAB studio program in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 2017 to 2018, played a pivotal role in shaping their early artistic endeavors. Over the years, their work has been showcased in various international settings, from online platforms like Yarat Contemporary Art Space to physical spaces such as the ARTIM project space in Baku, Azerbaijan. The artist's work has reached international acclaim through various projects, each contributing a unique brushstroke to their evolving narrative. From "The Story of a Boy with a White Bed Sheet" at Zaratan Air in Lisbon, Portugal, to the immersive experience at Hirvitalo in Tampere, Finland, their art transcends borders, creating connections and dialogues.
Rzayev will develop an interactive art project that aims to raise awareness about the environmental threats facing Lake Ohrid and invite the community to participate in creating an art installation that symbolizes unity and environmental action. The project will involve collecting discarded plastic bottles from the surrounding area, transforming them into unique invitation letters filled with dyed water, and using these bottles to construct a collaborative installation that highlights the importance of protecting Lake Ohrid's delicate ecosystem.
Marija Vidovic (Muralist and Visual Artist)
Marija Vidović is a muralist and illustrator based in Belgrade, Serbia. Inspired by nature, stories, and everyday experiences, she combines abstract and figurative elements into captivating compositions and color combinations that often portray a story or an experience.
Creating a series of street murals to enhance Ohrid's visual landscape.
The murals created during this project will serve as visual testaments to the interconnectedness between human communities and their natural surroundings. By portraying Lake Ohrid's unique ecosystems, history, mythology, and cultural significance, they will celebrate the profound relationship between people and place. At the same time, these murals will evoke a sense of responsibility, encouraging viewers to reflect on the periphery that is, in fact, at the center of our existence—Nature itself.
Capacity Building Workshops
I-A. Searching for De-Colonial Practices in Project Management Part I
What are decolonial practices? How can they be considered in managing cultural projects? Participants are invited to collectively rethink common practices of project management through questions from decolonial, queer*feminist and migrant perspectives. The workshop aims to build capacities and provide knowledge and resources to develop strategies for inclusion and diversity and to implement decolonial practices in (transnational) cultural projects.
The workshop consists of a theoretical component introducing concepts such as decoloniality and queer*feminism in order to raise awareness of the impact of colonial power structures and enable participants to recognize, question and re-think them. Within the second part of the workshop, these concepts will be discussed in a practice-oriented approach with the aim of jointly developing tools that can be actively used in managing cultural projects in the periphery and beyond. Cultural practitioners in the EU, as well as the general public and individuals with various backgrounds, are invited to participate.
I-B. Searching for De-Colonial Practices in Project Management Part II : Post-Yugoslav Perspectives
WITH: Ana Sladojević, Belgrade-based independent curator and theorist.
WHEN: Thursday, 9th August, 11am - 1pm CET
WHERE: The discussion will take place online, registration is required at [registration link].
WHO: Cultural Practitioners and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to join. No prior experience is required but we expect participants to be open to reflect on their own positionalities and perceptions.
This workshop focuses particularly on cultural work in the Post-Yugoslav region and asks what it means to act de-colonially within this context. We will examine the unique aspects of this region, understanding its continuities with and discontinuities from the Western modern paradigm.
II. Residencies and Peripheries - Research and production in collaboration with communities
WITH: Sonja Soldo and Marijana Rimanić from Pogon - Zagreb Center for Independent Culture
WHEN: Wednesday, 11th of October 2023 from 10 - 12am (CET)
WHERE: The discussion will take place online, registration is required via [registration link].
WHO: Cultural Practitioners and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to join. No prior experience is required but we expect participants to be open to reflect on their own positionalities and perceptions.
The workshop will be held in English.
In this workshop , Marijana Rimanić and Sonja Soldo, from Pogon - Zagreb Center for Independent Culture, will delve into the essential elements for establishing successful arts residencies in peripheral regions.
Seeking answers to the question of what the key elements are for a successful art residency in the periphery, they will draw from their project experiences where residencies have been used as a tool for producing new work, and share valuable insights, experiences and questions that have emerged.
Which formats are most suitable given the resources available and how to set them up?
How to collaborate with artists and facilitate their work with local communities?
How can the expectations of all participants be met?
What is more important - the process or the outcome?
Are we allowed to fail and what does failure even mean in the context of residencies?
Participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to engage in a collaborative discussion. Together, they will explore the significant role that residencies can play and the key factors required for the successful initiation and implementation of arts residencies in peripheries.
Sonja Soldo is the Senior Associate for Cultural Programmes and International Cooperation at Pogon. Since 2010, she has managed an artist exchange program with Akademie Schloss Solitude. Her past roles include work with [BLOK] Association on art in public space and co-managing UrbanFestival.
Marijana Rimanić, an Art History and Comparative Literature graduate, joined Pogon in 2011. She's held roles as a Programme Coordinator, Manager of Communications and Marketing, and worked as a journalist at Croatian Radiotelevision. She's also been a Co-Curator at [BLOK] Association's UrbanFestival and worked at the Multimedia Institute as the Manager of MaMa, a cultural and social center.
III. Culture and Tourism
Online training in English on sustainable cross-collaboration between the arts and tourism, supported by Ohrid SOS. Free and open to all interested organizations transnationally.
IV. New Media and New Technologies for Transnational Collaboration
Online training in English by Oyoun on new media and new technologies for transnational collaboration. Free and open to all interested organizations transnationally.
V. Grassroots Growth to Urban Hubs
Online training in English on Oyoun's experiences on strengthening the organizational capacities for growth. Free and open to all interested organizations transnationally.