They Are Here are interested in how the so-called 'Nordic Model' of finance offers a different angle to London’s financial system. Photo (C) Briony Campbell.

The Artists’ International Development Fund is a joint partnership between the British Council and the Arts Councils in England and Northern Ireland which opens up international perspectives for artists to expand their horizons.

The Artists’ International Development Fund is more than just a way to put on an exhibition in another country. It gives artists the chance to share their passion with others and get their names out there. Artists build valuable connections and strong networks during their time abroad, as well as immersing yourself in a completely different culture.

They Are Here - Stockholm Residency

Project Title: Stockholm Residency

Artist: Harun Morrison and Helen Walker 

Dates of travel: June and September 2017

Countries: Sweden

At the invitation of Konsthall C, an arts centre in Stockholm, Helen Walker and Harun Morrison of They Are Here are undertaking a four-week residency in two two-week blocks in June and September. The artist duo are based in London, Birmingham and the River Lea, and describe themselves as a collaborative practice whose work, or ‘games’ intend to embrace design, film, performance and writing. 

"Our work can be read as a series of context specific games", explains Harun, "the entry, invitation or participation can be as significant as the game's conditions and structure." Through these games, Harun and Helen seek to create ephemeral systems and temporary, micro-communities that offer an alternate means of engaging with a situation, history or ideology.

Having heard about the Artists International Development Fund through ‘word of mouth’ the duo decided to seek support for a project that would develop in Sweden. The residency in which they are involved continues research into national and transnational financial systems. Sweden exemplifies what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Nordic Model’, in essence a combination of free-market capitalism with comprehensive welfare support. They Are Here are interested in how this context offers a different angle to London’s financial system.

Their evolving project, The People Behind The Financial System, Sweden, means that Helen and Harun need to spend time creating a map of the financial system. The intention being to create a final performance in which the wider public have face-to-face discussions with people in the financial sector. The AIDF grant will help build a professional relationship with Konsthall C and develop fruitful conversations with other arts organisations and artists in Stockholm and Gothenburg. 

For Walker and Morrison, whilst buying a glass of beer or wine might be quite expensive in Sweden, you can't put a price on what for them is the stand-out highlight of their stay so far: watching the light of the famous midnight sun! 

Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway


Project Title: Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet 

Artists: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway

Dates of travel: 1-30th July 2016

Country: Greenland, Denmark and Sweden

With assistance from The Arts Catalyst, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway applied for the Artists International Development grant in order to develop a research project whilst living in Greenland for one month during the summer of 2016. 

What evolved was a film project entitled Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet, which investigated perceptions in Greenland at a time when the population is deeply divided on the issue of uranium mining as a means of gaining national autonomy, social progress and financial independence. The project explored a country, which is traditionally and emotionally bound with the natural environment, whilst struggling to find independence from colonial ties to Denmark. This path is currently defined through foreign mining companies and what appears to be one if the biggest uranium deposits in the world.

Autogena and Portway spent the summer travelling in south Greenland, meeting residents, politicians, sheep farmers and government officials in the mining region of Kvanefjeld, the rare earth geological site and focus of uranium mining. The final artwork portrays a region where pristine nature and traditional ways of farming and living from nature does not sit easily with the government’s plans for big investments from foreign mining companies. It portrays the conflicting issues of progress, inclusive and informed decision-making and the fight over the vast unknown consequences of siting uranium mining right next to a town and Greenland’s only food producing land regions. 

Both artists were struck by the harsh climate, which the sheep farmers in south Greenland have to endure to work on the land, just as their forefathers did before them. Experiencing the light of the Greenland summer, the land and the people of southern Greenland was an unforgettable experience. 

The film Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet was commissioned by Bildmuseet in Umeå, in Sweden. Curated by UK based Ele Carpenter, Perpetual Uncertainty / Contemporary Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene brings together artists from Europe, Japan, the USA and Australia to investigate experiences of nuclear technology, radiation and the complex relationship between knowledge and deep time. The exhibition can be seen until 16th April, 2017

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