How to transform an artist residency into a digital experience and platform, facilitating the exchange between artists and helping them to translate their concepts into digital artworks.
The challenge:

HerMaP Iran - Cultural Heritage Management Project is a 5-year program that aims at promoting cultural heritage in Iran. Focused on enhancing its value as well as its potential for social development, it includes a cultural strand managed by Bozar and the Goethe-Institut, that consists of an artistic research residency program connecting Iran and Europe.

Due to the pandemic, HerMaP had to be transformed into a completely digital experience. The artists' visits to the sites and projects of interest in Iran, a fundamental part of the project, had to be suspended and, as the in-person exhibitions were canceled, the artists' works also had to be migrated to the digital medium. In addition to this, the coordination between the participating institutions also had to be done remotely. Would it be possible to change completely the paradigm of the residency?

Our approach:

To face this challenge we focused on creating a methodology and a process to support the artists while developing their works digitally. One of the main challenges was to establish a stable communication bridge between the different locations and people involved, so we work closely with the artists in residency, the documentation and research team, the German embassy in Iran and local supporters and collaborators.

We focused on guiding the artists to reconceptualize their work alongside digital art curators, helping them to understand how to present their works in a digital medium, looking into how  to create unique digital pieces with time constraints.

The key insight:

Working and creating in completely different cultural contexts implies, above all, clear communication. In circumstances where all exchanges are remote, and especially in the particular times of artistic production, generating safe spaces where information can be retrieved is one of the fundamental pillars, easily achievable through simple-to-use technologies. It is also one of the bases for further empowering existing communities.

The outcome:
  1. 30 online digital experiences  and archive of both HerMaP phases, the first one dealing with industrial sites and living archives and the second one with creative music heritage and classic Iranian poetry, containing digital-first works and experiences, specifically created for this new shape of the residency.

  2. A physical exhibition of the first phase on Bozar headquarters in Brussels, which took place when the restrictions were relaxed, was designed completely remotely. When the second phase was completed, a final in-person encounter took place also in Brussels, where we facilitated a series of workshops, collected the insights by using the technique of social listening, and finally analyzed the social data to help the institutions define what should be the next steps of the project.
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