Compassion and Resistance at Ostend


From 13-18 September 2015 I was in the town of Ostend here in Belgium, invited to take part in the Artist Research Residency for Compassion and Resistance. I had never been on a residency before… and it was nice to be asked since this was completely outside my old, customary view of myself as a videogame designer. As it would turn out, many others there were outsiders to contemporary fine arts. It took place at Vrijstaat O cultural center, right on the beach boardwalk. A glittering location! I relished the thought of spending so much time with the sea.

The idea was simple: gather together creative people, have them think on the themes of Compassion and Resistance, collaborate (or not) and make something over the course of the week, connected to the local issues of the community in Ostend (or not) but we were absolutely encouraged to make something we normally would not make.

I went in with some vague notion of a photogrammetry project. (And I did capture some of the monuments I’d hoped to make into a 3d collage of some sort. I will return to this later, I think.) But once I saw the brief introductions of everyone’s work I knew my plans were out the window. There were too many interesting people there to work alone.

Over the first 2 days, we were gradually introduced to local people and organisations which deal with issues of religion, refugees, and the homeless. My thoughts were racing with ideas on who I might collab with and what could be done! It was a sly jolt to my brain to think so deeply about how art can help these issues in any real way. I found myself in deep discussions with just about everybody.

Challenge fully accepted, over wine, plans were made for a collab improvization performance about drawing the sea, Sympathy for the Sea. And on my own I wanted to make portraits of people, this became a crazy day of live drawing that became The Portrait of The Ostend Street Orkestra.

In the end, during the presentation opening I tried to Periscope live, but from what I hear the connection failed at a certain point. So, here is that:

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And a few photos from the week in Ostend.