A Tenant of Culture Administration of the International Residency (SMART Project Space) and Roles of Producers/Curators

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A Tenant of Culture Administration
of the International Residency
(SMART Project Space) and Roles of Producers/Curators

Thomas Peutz, Director of SMART Project Space
Artist driven and alternative, SMART Project Space endeavors to be the beating heart of the city of Amsterdam, a place of stimulation, refreshment, and adventure which reaches out beyond the confines of its walls to involve those in the City and far beyond. SMART Project Space is at the forefront of helping to introduce a new generation to the excitement we all feel when great art makes an impact on our lives. It is our mission to support extraordinary emerging talents in a new generation of creative artists and performers.
We commission, produce and present a multiplicity of exhibitions, film and (sound) performance events which continue to push forward the boundaries of each art form, we encourage artists in new collaborations that make SMART Project Space a thrilling place to experience art. We are prepared to experiment and take risks; our diverse and young audience appreciates this and understands our mission.
About SMART Project Space
SMART Project Space (SPS) was established in 1994 as a site for cross platform cultural practice. SPS supports artists by providing contexts to define cultural production, while at the same time, stimulating new relationships between artists and audiences. Housed in a former Pathological Anatomical Laboratory, SPS has developed different platforms of artistic and cultural production and creative research – offers exhibition spaces, cinema screens, auditorium for multidisciplinary performance programmes, 20 artists’ studios and a café/ restaurant – SPS drawstogether a wide range of approaches from the most interesting emerging international artists. SPS encourages practices that transcend reflexive observation by fostering creative experimentation, questioning, and discovery in an active environment. SPS posits the political nature of artistic activity, and intends to be an institution that is part laboratory, part community facility and part centre for academic inquiry. In this sense, SPS challenges the established exhibition function of institutional contemporary art spaces. SPS is artist driven and endeavours to embrace the spectrum of possibilities and to create a platform that is pivotal in asserting the role of emergent artists within contemporary life.
SPS has developed different elements of activity in order to generate a dynamic and broad audience by merging exhibition spaces, cinemas, music, and a meeting place within a single facility. Importance is placed on drawing together all sections of the artistic and local community.
The Building
The venue by no means offers only a simple presentation of works. It’s a permanent workshop, a lively urban space with real life events happening all the time. It’s a dynamic, complex and mutating system of creation and exchange.
SPS purchased the former Pathological Anatomical Laboratory (circa1930) in 2006. Extensive renovations were completed in 2008. Four levels are separated according to function: ten studios and a conference room upstairs; 700 m2 of exhibition space on the first floor, an Auditorium; a media studio, plus 2 cinemas; and café/restaurant LAB111, which can be accessed through the main lobby.
Urban strategy
SMART Project Space is situated in a location which will play a vital role in shaping the new cultural city map in Amsterdam. Located close to the city centre, Old West of Amsterdam is a deprived area currently undergoing urban regeneration. The new functionality of the building offers a sense of possibility, of civic improvement, a flagship that is sympathetic and responsive aiming to redraw the established cultural map and expand the infrastructure of visual arts within the city. By creating a new cultural platform, SMART Project Space will play a vital role within its urban setting. It will endow the city with a high quality municipal service and a new public space for both the local and international community.
Local Infrastructure
As a publicly funded institution, SPS recognizes its responsibility to return something of its cultural capital back to the community it serves. SPS carefully considers the cultural infrastructure of Amsterdam, as well as the unique character of the city itself. The city has thepotential to be imbued with good cultural resources and copious art experiences, and it has a sizeable audience waiting in the wings. With art academies such as Rijksakademie, Rietveld Academy, and the Sandberg Institute, as well as a large student population from the Universiteit van Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit, the city has a thriving young audience with enough time and curiosity to be involved in more challenging programmes of activity that encourage fluidity, contradiction, remix, that delivers unpredictable results. Additionally, an extensive expatriate and professionally mobile population is ardently on the look out for new places of cultural interest to captivate their imaginations.
SPS seeks to provide an alternative to the existing institutional structures. Its location in the Old West district is home to a culturally diverse neighbourhood and a significant and varied artistic community. SPS’s position as an international platform for the visual arts is an important focus for the city of Amsterdam.
The programme is conceived as a context specific programme evoking new forms of critical reflection on the question of contemporary arts and its relationship with other platforms of cultural activity. To articulate this we have decided to turn the venue into a laboratory for new interventions in order to provide a specific context and bring people together in a cultural space. Our programme is dominated by its irresistible momentum, its invention, its exploration in depth of various social, political and historical themes of major proportions.
Such a process certainly also brings art, theater, dance and music activities to confront each other and collaborate. The merging of different disciplines is today inevitable; we are facing the challenge of reinventing new identities for different practices. It’s through this negotiation that we can start imagining and defining new territories that bring us on an excursion into expressionistic sonic and visual experimentation. Our ultimate intention is to create a venue which functions as an on-going laboratory of reinvention, and a new context for art practice.
Exhibition Programme and Events
SMART Project Space has attracted considerable critical acclaim and support which has raised the profile at home and abroad. The exhibition space is the place where ideas develop about artworks and where momentary social groupings occur. It is the moment in which an artwork enters into an immediate dialogue with its audience and public. The artist is a tenant of culture, wherein artistic activity defines itself according to epochs and the social or political context in which it is sited. An encounter between the audience and the artwork takes place in the exhibition space, one which is perceptive, experimental and critical and at the same time is a reflection of human relations.
The 6 gallery spaces, with different characteristics, are left as open and flexible as possible in order to meet the needs of the artist, facilitating the most dynamic presentation of artworks.
SMART Cinema presents a programme of Art House Cinema and experimental film and video. By programming brief experimental films and video works before the feature films, and by linking the cinema programme to the programming of the other visual arts activities on the levelof concept and/or content, the Art House programmeis instrumental in introducing a larger audience to art-cinema and video art and in lowering the threshold to the exhibitions and other events. The spaces double up as auditoriums for lectures, conferences and multidisciplinary performances.
The artist’s studio is the most critical area within the framework of SMART Project Space. It is often a domain of privacy and a place of experiment and contemplation from where works originate. Through a close and dynamic engagement with the artists and their work, SMART Project Space provides an essential support structure for research and development. SPS has at its disposal 20 studios as International Studio Programme. The International Studio Programme provides foreign artists with a unique opportunity to live and work in Amsterdam.
Production support and Media Lab
SMART Project Space’s most valuable service is the development, production and organization of major new artworks and installations. Artists are advised in respect of their projects and assisted in establishing contacts with suitable partners and sponsors. An essential role is played by patrons of SMART. A dedicated group of institutional, corporate and private sponsors who support the realization of new work on a regular basis through the mobilization of their shared networks, providing (technical) know-how, product sponsoring and financial support. Further support is provided by the curators and programmers and the in-house production team who personally assist the artists in conjunction with the SMART Media Lab that provides active technical support in post production. As part of the Media Lab, SMART Project Space operates a dedicated streaming media server to support on-line projects requiring large amounts of server space and/or high bandwidth streaming capabilities.
Conference space
In addition to the exhibitions, the cinema and performance programs, a continual series of lectures and artist presentations take place in the cinemas, auditoriums and auditorium. These aim to establish an engaging dialogue with the public in order to emphasize the central role that the work and positioning of artists can play in contemporary life.
SMART books
SMART Books is the reference library and publishing administrator of SMART Project Space. It collects books and periodicals, keeps them available for reference by artists and art professionals, supports artists in the realization of publications and stocks SMART Publications as well as all major international art magazines, catalogues and books on young contemporary artists, art theory and criticism.
Media café/restaurant LAB111
Discussion usually happens beyond the confines of the studio, it often happens in the café or in the bar after hours. SMART Project Space emphasises the importance of the meeting place where artists and the public intermingle in a relaxed atmosphere and inspiring setting. DJ’s, VJ’s and performance events are programmed in the Café.
Each year an artist is commissioned by SPS to make a wall mural in the café/restaurant, changing the character and atmosphere and keeping the fluidity and essence of the programme visible and alive.