1 November 2014 - 31 October 2015
Milena Kosec was born in January 1947 in Ljubljana (Slovenia, EU), where she has lived and worked her entire life. In 1974 she graduated in technical mathematics at Ljubljana University. In 1971 she started her first job at the Jožef Stefan Institute. She planned and led the elaboration of new applications for different fields in different companies, usually by means of the most current computer technology. By the end of year 2002 she was retired. In the years between 1975 to 1983 she primarily devoted herself to her family.
Her artistic work began spontaneously with her first work “Državica Ptičjestrašilna” (The Pocket-size State of Scarecrows) in 1992. After that, she performed several public actions which commented on events in Slovenia intertwined with her own intimate stories. In 2007 she decided that she would no longer produce anything material-based nor document her work. In 2008 she was invited to the European Contemporary Art Biennial MANIFESTA7, with one of her immaterial projects Random Private Conversations.
After her last art action in 2012, Milena read a lot about the situation in her country and the world in general. Bewildered by the vast and contradictory information available and the number of the contemporary artists with similar practice, she became unsure if her critical approach to art was still relevant. This has made her stop her art practice and return to the question: “what are the basic needs for life?” Having “water and food” as her answer to this question, she decided to improve her knowledge on them through manual work and organic gardening. Her first attempt at gardening this past year made her realize that she needed more education about various aspects of organic gardening.
During her 2nd year at RFAOH, she will continue to educate herself on this front while she may report some other related on-hiatus activities throughout the year. She feels that this on-hiatus activity may be helpful for her art practice in the future.
To be an honorary resident was even more liberating than to be a normal resident. I enjoyed in gardening without thinking what would be important to write for residence page. I am grateful to Shinobu and Matt for opportunity in which I was connected with other residents one year more. To be without any obligation was wonderful feeling.
The last year of the residency I improved my knowledge about gardening through every day practice. It was important that I have enough time for working in garden and cooking fresh vegetable every day. As I had enough different vegetables I ate much healthier. The final consequence of all together is strong improvement of my health (much less problems with chronic diseases).
In two years of residency I completely broke with routine of making art. As I had enough time for looking around and thinking I saw or better I felt how quick society is changing. Contemporary art can't adequately follow this changes caused by technology on one hand and hegemonic states on another hand. We as society are not aware at all what is going on. In front of us I see total unknown world which is completely indescribable, which I hardly can even think about. How than can I make comments on it?
My plan for future is gardening and different other activities. As artist I will probably stay on hiatus.
Our honorary on-hiatus resident Milena Kosec’s year-long extension of her residency has ended as of October 31, 2015. We thank Milena for her participation for the 2nd year, and her reports on the continuous efforts put into organic gardening. She’s the one who tells us that she’ll stay on hiatus as an artist and we have no comments on that! RFAOH sincerely wishes her the best of luck in her post on-hiatus life, and hopes to hear about the crops and bus in her gardens time to time.
Click “Final Report” to read on her experience at RFAOH.
Kelly Malec-Kosak’s year-long on-hiatus residency ended on October 31, 2015. We thank Kelly for her participation as our 2nd round resident, and for sticking around despite her heavy duties at work and her personal difficulties throughout. RFAOH sincerely wishes her the best of luck in her post on-hiatus life, and hopes to hear from her from time to time.
Click “Final Report” to read on her experience at RFAOH.
Enrique Ruiz Acosta’s year-long on-hiatus residency ended on October 31, 2015. We thank Enrique for his participation as our 2nd round resident, and his thoughtful and thought-provoking bilingual hiatus reports. He tells us that he’s planning to write two books (one is autobiographical!) after RFAOH! We sincerely wish him the best of luck in his post on-hiatus life, and look forward to reading his books — we need to start learning Spanich right now.
Click “Final Report” to read on his experience at RFAOH.
This year we had colder September as usual and a lot of rain in the first part of October. The second part of October we had beautiful weather with average temperature from 10 to 15C through the days and about 5C at the nights. All vegetables which will stay outside through the winter look very well. This month I put winter salad and garlic together in one bad for spring use. I also put in the bed my own seeds of spinach and silver onion.
It is interesting that the harvest was worse than last year although weather was this year much better. We hadn’t too much dryness and on the other hand not too much rain. The big disappointment was beans – zero and I got only four pumpkins through all season. The sapling of pear tree decayed. But the raspberries were very good and I got new plant of blackberry from friend.
I find out that for planning a rotation of crops and an accessibility it is better to have the garden organized in the regular beds. Furrows between the beds are good in rainy days. I am going to reorganize the garden once more.Preparing for the winter.
Less than one week to go and I’m feeling quite anxious for what lies ahead. I didn’t know how it would feel to be on an artist’s hiatus, whether I would miss making art or not. I’ve found myself quite contented over the last six months just listening and learning, not making anything. Now I’m confronted with what to do once it ends and I’m quite dreading this actually. I’ve really enjoyed being on-hiatus.
I’d like to blog and create reports after the residency ends. I will let the co-directors know if I set this up so they can share it. I think once I become more active in the process of the renovating (I’ve barely scraped the surface , but it’s a start) people would like to follow it. Through my research I’ve discovered there’s a huge community of renovators out there and folks especially interested in heritage buildings, there’s a huge appreciation for this type work and I’d like to become more active within these circles. There’s still a lot of knowledge and resources required to move on with it.
In terms of going back to my usual art practice, I have had some moments where I’ve thought about painting and so I wonder if come November I’ll be inspired to pick up a brush again. I’ve been thinking about a new method to work in and so I’m pretty excited to try this out. As well the sound poetry band wants to get started again. When I think about regular sound poetry practices it makes me nervous because I think about all the time rehearsals take up. I ask myself would this be the best use of my time? We’ll see how I fare in a couple of weeks. Rethinking my painting practice has made me realize that I hold a lot of resentment towards my paintings and sketchbooks because they take up so much room, both physical and emotional space. In an ideal world all of my paintings would find a home and I would be relieved of their presence. There is an abundance of things in the world, certainly an abundance of art, and it’s this fact that makes me question the validity of art sometimes. I once had an art teacher who encouraged her class to get rid of 90% of our artwork. Remove the old to make room for the new? I can see the benefit in minimalist living, I really can.
Now, finally for a house update: the clean-up date the bylaw gave to have the exterior grounds tidied up has come and gone. The grass was cut short which was a satisfactory result for them and other odds and ends disposed of. Although I do think it’s ridiculous that bylaw can enforce certain rules on a property/landowner, this outdoor cleanup was long overdue and for that reason I’m glad for the kickstart. Not everyone is so complacent to these bylaws though as I’ve found out, in 2013 a man in the same area who also received a complaint fought it and made recommendations to the bylaw. His case was taken seriously and the 12 year old bylaw was going to be reviewed and a report made public. This man realized that there are problems with the policies after he saw a monarch butterfly on his property – he knew that if he were to cut his grass he’d be destroying the butterflies habitat. I’m not sure what’s happened to the report that was supposed to come out of this, if it’s out yet or not, but I’ll find out. I hope that whomever is in charge will come to the conclusion that in a rural area it’s particularly ridiculous that land and property owners are expected to treat their properties like doll houses with manicured lawns.
I also have more to add to the theft discussion : over the last couple of weeks something was taken from the property, nothing too important but it’s still disheartening that someone would do that and creepy.
¿Cuándo fue la última vez que hice algo que, especificamente, fuese hecho para el mundo del arte? Es decir, para ser exhibido o presentado en un espacio dedicado a legitimarlo como objeto o producto de arte. En julio del 2014 adapté una tira de papel para ticketes para una exhibición colectiva en la Casa de la Cultura de Nuevo León. Era un trabajo que originalmente había hecho en 2006 para un supermercado.
Antes de eso creo que el último año que estuve verdaderamente activo, con exhibiciones y proyectos, fue precisamente ese año 2006. Si recuerdo el momento en el que empecé mi incursión en el mundo del arte, diría que fue en 1977. Entonces fueron casi 30 años de trabajo, y después de 2006, fueron casi 10 años en pausa. Ni mucho ni poco, solamente eso, el tiempo que vuela.
En esos últimos 10 años hice cosas diferentes, y logré decifrar asuntos complejos de mi vida. Pasé por un doctorado, viví fuera de mi ciudad por 4 años, exploré otras actividades que no había conocido, leí sobre filosofía, ciencias sociales y psicoanálisis, y así.
Hoy me siento atraído por un proyecto de producción que me parece he madurado lentamente. Casi todos los días hago notas, preparativos, bosquejo ideas, encuentro relaciones, organizo carpetas en la computadora, y me imagino el trabajo que estoy deseoso de empezar.
La residencia Hiatus me ayudó a revisar y ordenar ciertas ideas, sobre todo porque escribir para alguien (el reporte) es responder a las preguntas que, aunque no se expresan, están ahí para ser respondidas. Soy interpelado por mi. La residencia fue un afortunado encuentro, una coincidencia con mi proceso personal (¿existirán las coincidencias?) y aún cuando estoy apurando el paso para empezar mi proyecto, aún tengo que soltar otras actividades. Andar a la deriva todos estos años ha tenido un costo y una inversión de tiempo que no puedo abandonar con la rapidez que quisiera. No puedo separarme de eso más que con la voluntad de hacerlo, y procurando cerrar los ciclos y las encuentros (asesorias, cursos, archivos de imágenes, viajes, voluntariados, lecturas, etc).
Nunca me he separado del mundo del arte pero en este período he aprendido a verlo de otro modo. No he abandonado el quehacer, sino que lo trasmuté en inquietudes y preocupaciones diferentes, en otros campos, acciones y miradas. En este momento lo que persigo, el quehacer que viene, está relacionado con una aguda conciencia que me resulta dolorosa de comprender, en la que me siento atravesado por las circunstancias de un siglo xxi sin utopías, cínico, desterrado, desposeído. Un zeitgeist interiorizado que me duele como también me duele el cuerpo de viejo.
El proyecto que iniciaré es entonces un testimonio que trata de dar cuenta de lo que sucede en el presente desde el cúmulo de experiencias de mi existencia. Es una tarea ambiciosa. Estoy preparandome para hacerla y la situo a partir del 2016. Presupongo que me tomará dos o tres años de trabajo constante para concluirla.
Es una certeza. Por ello, en ciertos momentos presentes siento que estoy perdiendo el tiempo, o que no quiero aceptar mas tareas o actividades que vayan mas allá de diciembre del 2015. Percibo mi actitud, y es razonable. Es ese giro el que marca la diferencia entre estar a la deriva sin quehacer, y sentir urgencia de producir lo que se tiene que producir, ya sea arte o no-arte, no importa. Es algo que se oculta entre las palabras, las cosas y las sensaciones. Se requiere llevarlo a la práctica para probar hasta donde puede ser atrapado ese escurridizo asunto.
• • • • •
When was the last time I made something, specifically made for the art-world? That is, to be exhibited or presented in a space dedicated to legitimize it as an art object or an art product. It was in July 2014 when I reused a roll of supermarket ticketpaper for a collective exhibition at the Casa de la Cultura de Nuevo Leon. It was a work that was originally made in 2006 as an intervention in a Soriana supermarket in Monterrey.
Before 2014 it was precisely 2006 the last year I was really active with exhibitions and art projects. If I remember when I began my foray into the art-world I would say it was in 1977. So, there you have almost 30 years of work, and after 2006 until now almost 10 years paused, in hiatus. Neither a lot nor few time, just that, time flies. In those 10 recent years I did different things and I managed to decipher complex issues of my life. I went through a doctorate, I lived out of my city for 4 years, I explored other activities that I had not known, I read about philosophy, social sciences and psychoanalysis, and so on.
Today I feel attracted to a production project that I think I have matured slowly. Since two years ago almost every day I make notes, preparations, sketch ideas, find relationships, organize folders on the computer, but not in a specific direction. But now I can imagine the work that I’m eager to get started.
The Hiatus residence helped me to review and organize certain ideas, especially because writing for someone (as in the report) is to answer questions, although not expressed, that I ask to be answered. I’m challenged by me most of the time. The residence was a fortunate encounter, a coincidence with my personal process (are there, really, coincidences?) And even when I’m rushing over to start my project, I have yet to release other activities. To drift all these years has now a cost and it required an investment of time. I can’t leave those activities as quickly as I would like. I can’t break up with them but only with the will to do it, and taking care to close their cycles (consultations, courses, files, volunteering, reading circles, etc.).
I have never been separated from the art-world but in this 10 year period I have learned to see it differently. I transmuted my work into different concerns and worries in other fields, actions and optics. What I pursue right now, this next task, is related to an acute awareness that I find painful to understand; I also feel crossed by the XXI century circumstances, a hopeless century without utopias, cynical, routlessness and dispossessed. A zeitgeist internalized in me that hurts like my body hurts as I get older.
My project is a testimony that attempts to make an account for what happens in my context and from the experience of my life. It is an ambitious task. I’m getting ready to do it and I may begin it in 2016. I assume it will take me two or three years of constant work to finish it. Bye hiatus status.
It is a certainty. Therefore, sometimes in the present I feel I’m wasting my time, or that don’t want to accept more tasks or activities that go beyond December 2015. I perceive my attitude, and it is reasonable. It is this shift that makes the difference between being adrift, and feeling urgency to produce what is to be produced, either art or non-art, no matter. It is something that is hidden between words, things and feelings. I need to do it to test how far can I caught that elusive thing.
Over the last five (now six) months of my residency I’ve developed a substantive reading list that has accumulated over time. Some of these books I already had on my bookshelf and some I have discovered along the way. I quickly realized that the nature of this residency encompasses a vast range of subjects and while at first I was a little overwhelmed by the vastness of these materials I’ve come to embrace and allow myself to dive into them, because they are all relevant. Thank you to individuals and to my own intuition for leading me to these sources – the list keeps growing but that means ideas are alive and I’m actively working when reading.
Flint & Feather, The Life and Times of E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake by Charlotte Gray
The Archaeology of Home, An Epic Set On A Thousand Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider
Informal Architectures Space and Contemporary Culture by Anthony Kiendl
Sandbanks, Exploring the Dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park by Jayson Childs, Phil Ainsworth, Joanne Dewey and Yvette Bree Figure in Place/Figuring the Landscape by Frederick Hagan
Curationism, How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else by David Balzer
The Settler’s Dream, A Pictorial History of the Older Buildings of Prince Edward County by Tom Cruickshank and Peter John Stokes
Canada A Portrait In Letters, 1800-2000 by Charlotte Gray
Classes began last month, and for the first time in years, I’m back in a studio class – I had been teaching our senior class which focused on critique, writing, exhibiting and presenting the students’ work. But this fall, I’m back to teaching intermediate and advanced jewelry. With my absence of a practice, particularly a technical one, I was worried – I hadn’t done some of these processes in years. Turns out, it’s like riding a bike. I used to think being a great teacher meant you had to know every process and technique in your discipline, so I would practice and practice so I would be viewed as an expert – now, I know that was based on lack of confidence. I am much more comfortable telling my students, “I don’t know. Let’s figure it out.” Being in the jewelry studio makes me realize HOW EXCITED I am to get back in the studio after all this time
I decided I wanted the students to explore contemporary jewelry – what is it? Why do we wear it? So I wrote a series of problems for the semester – “jewelry as….” is the theme. The first was “jewelry as purpose,” and the second is “jewelry as symbol.” The final will be “jewelry as decoration” (I think???). I was hoping to broaden their minds and have them understand why they make jewelry….turns out, the short investigations I’ve had them do between major assignments are much better. For the first one, we did a quick piece – the first was a piece that transformed when you took it off the table and put it on the body. For the second, I handed them a bag with 11 objects in it – they had to make a piece that connected two parts of their body, using the objects – they had two hours and they weren’t allowed to talk. That’s when they made some jewelry.