Tuesday, April 24, 2012

N.L.S., A New Local Space

Deborah Anzinger's own studio space
 I met Deborah Anzinger the way I meet most people in the Arts these days, via Facebook. She spoke about a new arts space that was opening up in Kingston soon. This was great news as I can't tell you how many times when I was a younger artist working in Jamaica's urban metropoilis that I longed for some kind of arts culture beyond exhibitions and galleries. I always felt there was never enough focus on the process of art-making outside of the art school environment and that the art scene was designed to privelage the collector. I suppose inveitably many of my colleagues and myself left the country seeking this opportunity in other larger 'art circuits'. I asked Deborah to tell us more about herself and the new art space project and plans.

What is NLS and what is the aim of this project?   
NLS is an artist-run initiative, consisting of a gallery program and an artist residency program, scheduled to open at the end of 2012.  NLS aims to effect a culture of relentless experimentation and intellectual accessibility in the visual arts by: 
1. Promoting local artists and curators that are already working hard in this way 
2. Strengthening the local and international community of such individuals 
3. Building new audiences for these artists

The name NLS, functions as a point of origin for an endless initialism that is constantly growing.  So far the name has grown to be: Nuclear Localisation Signal, New Local Space, Natty's Loquacious Stylings, Nerds Love Serpents, Nobodies Loving Something, Now Look Sideways, No Longer Single, Notable Love Stares. Consequently, the name is not only interdisciplinary in context/origin, but has been contributed by a group of individuals. The activation of the name in this way is a metaphor for the tone of the programs that NLS embodies:  an open, collaborative and organic environment in which different disciplines freely mix and push boundaries through experimentation, play and constant work.
How did you come to be involved in this project? 
I came to be involved in this project in a very organic way.  The ideas behind NLS are ones that I have been in the process of documenting for about five years and they revolve around my experiences as an artist in various situations such as my studio, being a member of an artist collective, a gallery artist, an artist-in-residence, and manager for a non-profit art gallery in Washington DC.  Throughout these situations, I’ve noted recurring circumstances/environments that correlate with periods of creative breakthrough, high productivity, and rewarding career relationships.  
When circumstances lined up for me to relocate to Kingston I was very ready to take advantage of the opportunity to start NLS. The people with whom I’ve started this, Mandilee Newton, Chajana denHarder, Simon Benjamin, Richard Lyew, are persons whose work I admire and with whom I have formed meaningful relationships through work along the way. 

How important is the site's location in Kingston to the aims of the project and what kind of space/s are you planning to setup?
Some renderings of the future arts space.
The site’s location in Kingston is significant and convenient for me on a number of levels.  The site for NLS is at 190 Mountain View Ave— about 3 blocks from the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing arts, from which recent graduates like you are doing great things.  Notably, we are sharing address with Creative Sounds, a recording studio that’s been around since 1982.  We are very fortunate to be able to start NLS somewhere that is not only geographically convenient, but also located within a hub of creative activity and talent.  And because we have easy access to the recording studio any artist-in-residence of NLS wanting to include sound as a component in their project can do so readily as part of their residency.
NLS is going to be operating out of its own building that houses the exhibitions, studio space and resident artists. The ground floor is going to be a 640 square foot exhibition space, that functions as a studio space during residencies, and is going to be equipped to show video and sound art as well as work in more traditional media. The second floor includes the administrative office and sleeping quarters for three artists-in-residence.

I think of Kingston as being a place where the desire for nowness is palpable and has led to inventiveness. For me this is most easily demonstrated by the speed with which new musical genres have developed here in the last 50 years. I also think there is an inherent inventiveness that comes out of urban environments where life moves faster.  I love being around that and I like tapping into it. There is also a wide breadth of walks of life in Kingston, and I’m of the opinion that the power to invigorate and move people has something to do with usurping a space across class and other boundaries; this is something NLS aims to do through visual arts.   We want to open up the conversation to whoever is interested in accessing the energy and new ways of thinking and looking that the artists in our program have to offer, and we want to give these artists the support that will help them bring their novel ideas and vision into fruition, however large or small.

There is mention of three artists residencies being planned, how do you see these artist residencies as being an important catalyst for the things that you hope to achieve with NLS and in the contemporary art scene?
By providing studio space, a stipend and room and board we are giving support to visual artists working in ways that might be ahead of what the general public knows or understands of art, without artists feeling the need to compromise singular ideas worth exploring. While we believe the commercial gallery system is valuable, it can encourage artists relying on an income to make work with which the public already feels comfortable.  We believe that an aspect of art is a constant two-way conversation, between artist and public, about progress.  The support NLS offers gives artists a stronger voice that can be heard in this conversation. 

We also want to give the public the opportunity to see, understand and appreciate these new ways of seeing/thinking.  Therefore essential parts of NLS’s programming are planned studio visits open to the public of the resident artists’ workspace, as well as panel discussions during the run of exhibitions; all part of a mechanism for creating a strong culture around visual arts.

Part of the outline of the program is to have a mix of local and international artists during each residency cycle.  This is to facilitate a larger network, a larger conversation, and really allow local and international artists the opportunity to see themselves in different contexts, as well as adopt and borrow things they may never have imagined on their own…these are things that are valuable for creative breakthroughs. 

Visit NLS site to find out more. What hopes do you have for a new art space in Kingston?


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