Rob Santaguida, Canada

Residency Period: 1 October 2016 – 31 July 2017 (withdrew as of May 1, 2017)


A Canadian film-maker Rob Santaguida’s videos ”Miraslava” and ”Goran” have screened in over 200 international festivals, including CPH: DOX, Denmark; Videobrasil, Brazil; Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Germany; and Transmediale, Germany. Rob has served as the artist-in-residence at museums and artist-run centres in the United States, Croatia, Romania, Germany, Norway, Greece, Serbia, and Australia. Rob is the recipient of the K.M. Hunter Artist Award and a fellowship from the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany.

On-hiatus Proposal Summary

Rob has been meaning to go on hiatus for several years now, but every year, a new event or project emerges, and he finds himself making work while missing the original impulse that moved him in the past. Later this year he will finally go on hiatus, with the hopes of replacing cynicism with youthful vigour, and finding new motivation for when he returns to his practice in the future.

During his hiatus, he will travel to Istanbul and live in the neighborhood of Balat. He will focus on simple activities, like reading, walking and conversation. He will learn Italian and maybe try out the saxotromba.

Final Report

"You said it was time for a grand conclusion. When we pick our seats on the train you always find it strange that I don't mind facing backwards. Time spent regretting is wasted time, you say. Who cares about an exchange from twenty years ago when you reacted to your environment like a sand dollar? If I hadn't wasted these hours with my regret I probably would have wasted them in another way. This is time for a soft statement.

I mishear things sometimes. The music was too loud or you slurred your words, and I pretend to understand. I wonder how things would be different if I had apologized until it was clear what you meant. Only you know.

I have never been afraid of endings. Beginnings, on the other hand, terrify me. As I stand knee-deep in this prelude I now know nothing I do is important. The world doesn't need another one of my films. What the world needs is comfort.

It is too hot to sleep, so I sit up with the lights off, trying to stay quiet so not to wake anyone, listening the sound of the waves slapping against the rocks. A few small boats glide by, fishing with spotlights. Behind me my ancestral home, without a head the town spasms in the final moments before it dies. Streets are cut out instead of repaired. Long curls of white paint come off the welcome sign. The locals will think I am insane if I moved back here.

We bobbed on the sea aboard an old yacht. The captain and his daughter handed us drink after drink. I started feeling sick and lay on the deck. The boat bounced off the waves as we headed to the shore in the cool, black air. You covered me with a part of the sail, and it was cozy. I thought you would lean in and see how I was doing from time to time, but your thoughts were elsewhere. I nearly heard your laugh over the sound of the engine and the water. I stayed wrapped up well after I felt better.

I did nothing that I set out to do. I didn't think I would. I was alone more than I expected. Enjoyed it more than I thought I could. I traveled to cold places during the winter and hot places in the summer while I tried to do the reverse. I didn't learn any new languages or how to play an instrument or even spend a day longer than I needed to in Istanbul. The bitter fights, which I hadn't proposed, were my currency. It was a good experience. But I wouldn't do it again. But it was good."




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From RFAOH Co-directors

As announced in his last, April 21st report (in a Rob way (; ) Rob Santaguida has decided to leave his 10 month residency three months early, as  “…the little green man appeared and urged him forward”, to resume his art practice. We thank Rob for his participation in RFAOH despite slightly complex circumstances initially and negotiations, and for sending us his on-hiatus reports that always made us think of a blurry line between being an artist and being inevitably artistic no matter what one does.  RFAOH sincerely wishes him the best of luck for his post hiatus life wherever he is — we still do not know!

Click “Final Report” to read his poem or his RFAOH final report.

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I knew this feeling

I knew this feeling would come at some point but not a few nights ago.  It was a late one, and I was standing at an intersection, the Kaii Hotel behind me.  I had just visited their casino.  I didn’t go to gamble, just needed a distraction, and the lights and audible excitement and despair would have to do. 

At the intersection, there were no cars in sight, but I waited.  The little green man appeared, urged me forward.  Reluctantly I crossed.  A short time later, I decided I needed to end my break.  This will be my final entry. 

I’ve grown to enjoy this project quite a bit.  I had a chance to meet Shinobu and Matt.  It was hard not to like them.  They nod in a way when they’re listening to you that kind people tend to do.

I will start a new film.  Translate a book.  Go camping.  And try not to hope for anything. 

All the best. 



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I attend a wedding

I attend a wedding.  I’m there as a favour to someone I hardly know.  The ceremony is in Portuguese, but I still manage to shed tears on cue. 

I prepare myself during the day for who I’m going to be that night.  This rendition of myself makes a habit of doing things for all the wrong reasons, which, on occasion, out of sheer coincidence, happens to resemble noble acts.  Without hesitation, he leaps up and takes credit.  He would smirk at me from across the room.  It’s the lowest form of out-of-body experience.

At the bar, I silently flip though the Rolodex of past regrets.

I’ve known early mornings when I would crawl along the living room floor, throw open the shutters, trying to catch a glimpse of the moment before it falls.

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I am keeping the blinds

I am keeping blinds lowered this afternoon, so the cats are not disturbed by the sunlight.  They are exhausted from having kept me up all night.  Here’s something from my late-night reading:
“Hi Rob,

Do you ever feel like it’s all been said before, said better than you could possibly say it, and said in a way you can’t even start to say it?  That’s how I feel sometimes when I listen to music.  The primordial elements make me feel like I should have taught myself how to play the clarinet.  

I can’t bear to read a biography before knowing whether the person is alive or not.  If they’ve passed away, I need to know how it happened.  Dying is the one of the only things that you can’t try first to see what all of the hype is about.  I wish I could. 

I’m not sure why I’ve been negotiating with you lately.

Best wishes,

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Out comes the dusk

Out comes the dusk, and it gets me every time.  Pink tonight after a day under the dull grey ceiling.  The lamenting baby across the street.  What’s bothering her on this calm evening?

I’m compulsively reading the news.  I don’t want to miss anything.  One serious announcement after another until it finally goes quiet, and there’s no need to comment further.

Reading the comment section.  I’m told I can “e­­­ar­­­n $965 da­­­il­­­y… e­­­arn f­­­ro­­­m $18,7370 a m­­­on­­­th o­­­r ev­­­en m­­­or­­­e… I­­­t’s ea­­­sy, j­­­us­­­t fo­­­ll­­­ow in­­­str­­­ucti­­­ons o­­­n th­­­is pa­­­ge…”  The promise of ease when everything, even getting up and making toast, is an ordeal.  You can almost hear the commands to every muscle.

Is there a certain point when you need to stop being patient?  And how do you know when you’ve reached it?

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There’s a grey hatchback

There’s a grey hatchback outside my window.  An older model.  The car has been parked in the same spot for two straight weeks.  Nobody seems to have noticed.

The car was caked in snow for a while, glistened with rain, now it’s dry, dirty streaks on the side, but dry on this cloudy day.  There’s nothing visibly wrong with the car, nothing shattered or smashed in, at least on the one side I’ve seen from my living room window.

I don’t care enough to check the other side.  I know one morning I will get up and the car will be gone, without announcement or ceremony, and I might not even notice, on to the next worry or minor preoccupation on the eternal list.

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Hi Rob

Late one night, I find a note slipped under my door.  I’ve decided to share it with you:
“Hi Rob,

You need to leave that studio.  It sucking the funds and life out of you.  But where to go?

I slept.  I’m sleeping, in fact, well.  I ate my own heart for three days straight.  I don’t recommend it. 

I reconnected with old friends, and just like that I am going to Georgia.  The country, not the state.  An old application I had forgotten about.  At least, one I was ignoring.  But instead of making a video I will translate a book.  That will show them.

I can’t find the words anymore.  My trouble with regular conversation is growing.  I’m worried. 

This weekend I go to Croatia.  A night in Belgrade before that. 

I’m well.  Some small problems, but nothing a good haircut and massage can’t solve.

Many hugs,
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I head south

I head south to escape the cold weather.  The train is always late, the conductor tells me, and the best view is on the right.  For me, the main spectacle will be my wristwatch, every fifteen minutes.  I have an eight-hour train ride ahead of me, but it always takes nine.

I’m too restless to do anything but chew gum.  The flavour of each piece lasts for about two minutes.  I have eighteen sticks altogether.  I will need to pace myself.

We pass through a thicket of small trees, just wide enough for the train to get through.  I see a house, remote and alone, on a ridge.  I have the urge to knock on the door and see who lives there.  And why.  After a few kilometers, another house appears.  Another.  And another.  I realize it’s just a neighbourhood, each house separated by an immense, rugged distance.  

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I’m not sleeping

I’m not sleeping well.  Is that the root of all of my problems?  Everyone’s maybe?  When someone complains that they’re tired, I ignore it.  It’s as though they’re telling me they have a heart beating in their chest.  Exhaustion is the underlying colour of the everyday.

There’s someone very dear to me that refuses to invest in anything except a good bed.  Some mornings I wake up in a comfortable hotel room and wish, if I could afford it, to never check out.  I understand why some people live in hotels long term.  It’s a subject I refuse to spend time arguing over.

Light and sound, just a minuscule amount — a ray passing through a pinhole or tip-toes on carpet — are enough to erase an easeful moment.  (Fortunately there are others ways to ruin a moment.)  Peace is delicate and can be tore with a word.



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I decide to walk

I decide to walk instead of taking the subway.  There’s sometimes nothing better than a 3-hour walk in the cold.  The streets are abandoned.  After the sun goes down, everyone disappears.  It isn’t depressing though.

I’m happy to spend time with my family.  I never know when I will see them again, but they don’t seem to mind.  Come around when I can.  When there’s time.

I’m solemnly wrapping things up.  Mapping things.  Trying to feel optimistic amidst the din of the presumed catastrophe.  I’ll wait and see. 



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