Artist in Residence South Africa, AiRSA, is a registered NPO 243-824, offering FREE artist residencies for emerging and mid-career artists, both national and international, in South Africa.

Artists in Residence programs give artists the opportunity to live and work outside of their usual environments, providing them with time to reflect, research, and produce work based on the experiences in the given environment. Artists’ residencies have become intrinsic to many artistic careers.

Residencies enable artists to do fieldwork and to work on-site, in order to map out, collect, research and generate new perspectives. This kind of ‘embedded research’ contributes to public and professional awareness. It reinforces the concept of artists’ residencies as cells of knowledge and alternative academies.

We particularly encourage artists to explore ‘place’ as a concept which incorporates the environment and the people who engage with it. We believe that artworks created at our residencies not only imply a respect for place, but also a desire to reveal and comment upon our relationship with it, rather than exploiting it for the sake of art.

Documentation for both residencies is through video, photography and audio podcasts. We provide a group of photographers / videographers to document artworks and artistic processes.

Tankwa Artscape Residency

Founded in 2017, Tankwa Artscape is a yearly (April or May) artist residency for 10-12 national and international artists in the Tankwa Karoo, South Africa, on Stonehenge Private Reserve.

It is a two-week residency for artists working in the fields of visual art, spoken word / sound, movement art, performance art. It is a unique experience in the desert for the most part using materials found there or/and body and vocal performance, diving extremely deep into the creative sources. Only a few artworks are permanent. Much is ephemeral or performance-based, and much of the work involves the gathering of experiences / ideas / possibilities that will translate into artworks at a later stage.

We specifically invite and support emerging artists/art students. We also connect South African artists with international artists and art organizations. For many participating artists Tankwa Artscape Residency was a turning point in their career.

The conceptual focus is on interacting creatively with the vast environment of the Tankwa Karoo and the history, ecology and culture of the place. Tankwa Artscape aims at providing a space for conscious confrontation of the artist with harsh, relatively unspoiled nature. Each artist then deals with this confrontation in an individual creative way, giving rise to artworks that render this confrontation visible, audible, touchable.

Bodhi Khaya Artist Residency

Land | Maps | Dreams | Visions

Sculptors, dancers, poets, performance artists, land artists come together in a week-long artist residency at Bodhi Khaya to create on and with the land that surrounds them. Georgina Hamilton, custodian of Bodhi Khaya, outlines the conceptual background:

In her book, “Rock/ Water/ Life: Ecology and Humanities for a Decolonial South Africa” Lesley Green says “The three gods of reason of the knowledge economy … serve to authorise extractivism, and their names are Technical Efficiency, Economic Profitability, and Scientific Objectivity. Like a game of rock-paper-scissors in which each has the capacity to trump the other, their wielding has the power to close and limit available evidence of harm to the earth, so that no other concerns might be imaginable, or seem viable, or reasonable.

We need a new story here on earth; about earth; for earth; for ourselves. That uncomfortable gap between environmental science and ecopolitics (including social justice) is a good one for artists. What are the questions we don’t bother to ask or even know to ask? What are the shapes and connections we forget to see or haven’t stopped long enough to see. Where are we in the captured wild?

Bodhi Khaya is among the wilder places in the Overberg yet it has many wounds. In addition to its toll on lives and livelihoods, Colonialism introduced animals and plants that had an effect on the environment like biological weapons. A hundred and fifty years of cattle grazing spread grass seed throughout the delicate Fynbos biome. Fast-growing wattles from Australia were brought in nearly 200 years ago to stabilize dunes and feed a tanning industry. Today they are a significant fire hazard and “dynamic colonisers” of the Cape Floral Region. Their ability to take over much of this extraordinarily bio-diverse region is staggering and the focus of much hand-wringing and ineffiicient mitigation by environmentalists.

At this residency I hope the land will invite us to see both scars and the medicine as we sit on the tamed lawns and enter the wild woods, or keep warm by a fire of wattle. What is inside and what is outside?

‘We think we imagine the land, but perhaps the land imagines us, and in its imaginings it shapes us. The exterior landscape interacts with our interior landscape, and in the resulting entanglements, we become something more than we otherwise could ever hope to be.’
Sharon Blackie, “The Enchanted Life”

Between humans and other creatures, Bodhi Khaya is held in a mycelium web of maps and dreams. We will be sharing an understanding of these and particularly how both have been shifted and shorn by colonialism and apartheid.”