Over the past years I had always been very curious about what being an artist in residence would be like. Therefore, I had applied a couple of times before, but it wasn’t until this autumn that Visiting Arts granted me this opportunity to come to England and continue some of the works I have been doing in Colombia, and start a new project planned specifically for these 3 months being in the residence.
For me, as a South American Artist, this has been an amazing experience: to be sponsored by someone while I can just concentrate fully on my work; this is something that very few artists can do, because we have to get other jobs to be able to do our personal work. So this has actually been one of the first times in my life in which I have been able to forget about everything else and just think about my artwork.
Therefore, now that I am 7 days away from finishing the residency, and opening my exhibition at Site Gallery in Sheffield, I look back and feel very satisfied with all the experiences I have had here. Not only those that have to do with my work, but personal experiences, meeting people, breaking into a different culture, a different language, all the things that happen once one is abroad.
This has definitely had certain impact in my artwork. Since I do self-portraits, actually a daily photograph in a photo booth (project that started 7 years ago), I can see myself become different people I see on the street, and this might also have to do with the weather… I am obsessed with diversity and with people’s different ways. And if there is a place where I have been shocked after seeing so many different kinds of people all co-existing, it’s London, (not even New York). I would have to say my life has been split in two, before and after coming to England.
Actually, the photographic series in my exhibition called “diva’s Life”, was possible after being in a bar in London where I saw everything-everyone I needed! I could barely dance because I had to just stand in a corner and literally take note of what I was seeing. It was one of the best experiences, seeing all these people together! Not separated by any cultural or social barrier, just together. This is very different from what we have in Colombia where, if you are lucky, you will get to see or identify two social classes or type of people if I might say…In my self portraits, I always try to go as far as I can from the starting point (me)… Now I know that all these characters I once thought I was making up, do exist! And it is thrilling.
As for the interaction with people (different artists, art students, etc..) I felt really comfortable showing my work in the couple of talks and workshops I did here in England. People were very receptive and not at all shocked with any of the things I had to show… ; in fact, I was very surprised with how well they immediately made me feel. It is interesting how here I don’t have a past and I can simply be what my work is, and this is something that makes me feel very confident as an artist. This is why I think that it has been an unforgettable experience, a whole new beginning for me and my work, full of new meaning and stronger than ever. I am looking forward to coming back to England, and I will also start applying to many more residency programs around the world, because I have seen this is the best way to live being an artist, to know the world and obviously myself.
Juan Pablo Echeverri Muñoz
„Here I don't have a past and I can simply be what my work is “
„My Time in Sheffield“
Copyright: Juan Pablo Echeverri
More information about the participant on culturebase.net
See also this artistic contribution to…
ImageHere I don't have a past and I can simply be what my work is
TextPandora's Box: Europe 2007