Academy Summer Residencies 2016: Leipzig

Our second dispatch from Leipzig comes from Rebecca Orcutt MFA 2017. 

Neo Rauch painting in Berlin

There has been much to reflect on from the past month while attending the Leipzig 
International Artist Programme Residency.I have experienced personal victories—this includes resisting the temptation to buy the amazingly priced Nutella (until a couple days ago), and owning a reusable water bottle for the longest period of time in my life without losing it.

All of us have been working hard in our studios, painting and trying new things. Also 
sometimes painting over those new things. It has been a very good experience for me experimenting with techniques I have hesitated to attempt in the past.

The most significant part of the last month for me has been meeting people, exploring Leipzig, and all the inspiration it has to offer. Since arriving, I have become a fan of the atmosphere. Everything feels very relaxed, and spontaneous. More than once, we have been riding bikes back from some event, and come across an intriguing happening on the side of the road, and decided to take a detour to investigate. These sort of attractions have included flea markets, Ukrainian music concerts (with dancing), art, and even all-you- can-eat sushi.

Every Tuesday since we’ve arrived we have adopted a weekly tradition of the 
Whisky Bar— a great outdoor bar nestled between trees and a building housing the former BimboTown (a museum of true wonder in the Spinnerei). We often enjoy a whisky paired with whatever the bar tender deems appropriate to accompany our particular whisky (my favorite: smoked whisky with the smoked salmon), eat some garlic potatoes from the grill, play ping pong, or wander BimboTown a bit- last time we even ran into the Bimbo Town creator himself riding around on a tricycle.

People sit on the streets and bridges by the water on Fridays and weekends, with 
drinks and snacks, right outside of the bars and restaurants- without pressure to go inside. Movies and soccer games are projected outside of buildings on nice days.

I still can’t really figure out exactly what is on the menus except schnitzel, but I’ve 
often just ordered something without knowing, and either I’m very lucky, or all the food is great here, cause it has all been very good. It also makes me feel like I am taking risks, living on the edge.

University of Leipzig

There is also a lack of small talk here, which takes off a lot of pressure in social situations. I like that I can go out, do my own thing, make minimal eye contact, maybe not speak at all, and it’s not weird. There is no expectation to be overly friendly, so when people talk to you or show interest, you know it is because they genuinely want to. That is really refreshing.

I also have yet to see a single selfie being taken, or people on their phones when we 
are out. When you go out, people are just there, talking to each other, looking around, experiencing the world directly, without the stress of documenting it.

There have been too many events at the Spinnerei to record. Most recently was the 
f/stop photo festival which attracted many newcomers, and ended with several dance parties, one of which was conveniently located in a basement several floors below my studio. I fell asleep to the faint beat of techno.

There has been so much great art—an exhibit of Rosa Loy’s work was one of my 
favorites—as well as ‘Behold the Man,’ an exhibit in one of the many galleries in the Spinnerei, featuring a variety of artists and mediums. We have had the privilege of visiting many amazing artist’s studios, as well as visits and critiques to LIA, including Robin Zöffzig, Sebastian Burger, and Rayk Goetz. We even had the unique experience of being filmed for a German morning talk show, where we ended by doing a collaborative drawing with the host. I can for sure say this was a first for me!

After a conversation with the wonderful coordinator here, Laura, she recommended 
checking out the work of a Leipzig artist named Matthias Ludwig. I really loved the work, and was just excited to see it online. However, a week later, Laura informed me she had run into the artist and invited him to our studios for an impromptu studio visit.

It was so exciting to have an artist whose work I really admire, standing in our 
studios talking with us. This is something special about the Spinnerei and Leipzig—there is the possibility to casually meet wonderful artists, and an incredible sense of community that feels both accessible and inclusive, even as visitors like us.

All of these experiences have been significant in my time here. Reverting back to the 
old days on an improv team, I have adopted the number one rule of improvisation for my time here: “say yes.” If an opportunity arises, I usually say yes. The things I’ve seen that seem unrelated to art are still important, as it all has the possibility to inform and inspire my work.

Recently, we took a trip to Berlin. It was exciting and exhausting— we packed a lot 
into the few days we were there. We were able to see the amazing Neo Rauch show (which Danica claimed smelled like the Spinnerei), visit some galleries, go to the museum, and check out a bit of the Berlin Biennale. I also got some much needed dancing out of my system, accompanied by what I have found to be the perfect rhythm— a medium-paced, consistent techno beat with no vocals. As great as thetrip was, we concluded before we left that though we liked Berlin and all, were ready to go “home” (this being Leipzig).

The Leipzig Studio 

Upon arriving back at the Leipzig train station, we came across an odd set-up in the middle of the station. There were nets, sand, and a large tent. Looking closer, we realized it was beach soccer. Words did not need to be exchanged as I saw the pure joy in Anastasia and Danica’s eyes. They asked me if they could play— while grumpy after bus rides, I do have a soul, I could not refuse them. I stood on the sidelines like a proud soccer parent watching my fellow colleagues play honorably in weird blow up bubble things. I also laughed at them with the nice guy working it.

As odd of a thing to happen, or even write about, it seemed fitting. It was weird, 
unexpected, fun, and so characteristic of our Leipzig experience thus far. An undeniable sign from the universe, welcoming us back to our home (for another month.)

No comments:

Post a Comment