Chris Simpson

Due to start my residency in March 2020 just one week after the lockdown was introduced in UK, I was suddenly confined to my own studio for nearly a year creating sculptures in opposition of fear and danger. The theme of my residency was ‘Dirty Laundry’ – if you say someone airs their dirty laundry in public, you disapprove of their discussing or arguing about unpleasant or private things in front of other people.

Since lockdown was lifted this statement could not be truer. Ostrich mentality has set in and people are more reluctant to discuss uncomfortable truths. Especially in the UK.

In the years between then and my actual residency this year, I completed my Masters in Sculpture at The Royal College of art where the running theme was ‘The Urgency of the Arts’. This urgency seeped more into my work as I explored ways to circumventing, visually, a way to speak about the uncomfortable, in a series of paintings and sculptures that would look at both sides of the human psyche, not least my own.

“Red protects itself. No colour is as territorial. It stakes a claim, is on the alert against the spectrum”. – Derek Jarman.

I had been doing an ongoing series of red sculptural interventions in Italy and UK, with metal and fabric textiles and wanted to try it in Lichtenberg. Starting from the doors and windows of Lichtenberg studios, red metal, wood or fabric sculptures float their way around the area of Victoria Stadt and Rummelsburg intervening on infrastructure as though blown there by chance.

However, I wanted to add another element to my residency and bring along some artists I had previously collaborated with to make a film called ‘Red Alert’*. Inviting them to intervene on my interventions with a story loosely based on the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale of Rapunzel. Locked in a tower by a Sorceress only to be sent out into the wilderness after meeting a Prince, who loses his sight when meeting the sorceress and is left to walk blindly through the wilderness until the tears of his wife opens his eyes again. Dame Gothel is the protagonist in our version, Rapunzel and the Prince are still lost in the wilderness.

*The film will premiere at The Royal Academy in London alongside an exhibition at The Stash Galley in December 2023.

Film collaborators: Mai Nguyen Tri, Lito Apostolakou, EDRE, Xuan Sinden, Rebecca George and Rossano Snel.

December, 2023

Madhavi Gore

As an artist-in-residence at the Lichtenberg Studios from August 6th to September 3rd 2023, I was thrown into a side of Berlin, and exposed to a part of the city, which I did not know existed. I was familiar with the city. Moving through Lichtenberg highlighted for me a whole new relationship to the city, as I reflected on the keywords ‘solitary encounters’, or, ‘fragile intimacies’ inspired by my recent research: 

1-a podcast, (‘Spaces of Solitude’, published by the Queen Mary University, UK)

2-a novel, (by Katie Kitamura titled Intimacies where the author looks at her relationship to work and to the various characters in the book).

3-The telephone booth in Tuchollaplatz, which has been converted into a mini art display gallery, (from the times of the Reich).

4-Two museum exhibitions I saw in Berlin, one about ecology, (‘Time to Listen’ at the Akademie der Kunst), and the other related to de-colonisation (at the Houses of World Cultures), which stayed with me in my thoughts and inspired my process of working.

The luxury of commuting by a highly developed public transport system, feeling safe in a large first-world urban center of the world, while inhibiting its diverse millues, as a resident for a month, further inspired me.The running theme of the residency for me, became the experience of solitude amongst people and to consider urban ecology and geography in a first world city, to add layers and new perspectives to my work as an artist. 

My days were extremely productive, immersive, and provocative. Away from home ground, I was immersed in thoughts and actions that were related to making art in public space and locating myself in the district of Lichtenberg, Berlin, as the context. While my days were spent in the district of Lichtenberg, I would engage with other neighborhoods in the evening. I felt lucky to have a few good old friends who are Berliners.

I used a very rudimentary process of drawing, mark-making, record-making, mapping, cartography, to expose the cracks and fissures in the logic and narrative of progress and development. immigrants, migrants and refugees, are the texture and fabric of the city; conflicting states of being and identity, belonging and longing. I spent my days in the parks, making rubbings of tree barks, making drawings in plain air, using found sticks and objects as drawing tools, making collections and little assemblages, enjoying summer sun picnics, and observing the reactions of passers by who chanced upon me making these records of my time. These collections of rubbings have become a vital record, a map, and a tracing. The tenderness of touching or hugging trees, and making impressions of the textures on the bark surface, was experienced as an encounter with the surface, exposing the scars and marks of time.

Berlin for me always represented the best of urban citizenship with care given to public life and public spaces. The citizens of the City and visitors alike enjoy green space and states of solitude as well as spaces for community gathering. I observed, every park in Lichtenberg or Berlin has a playground, a trash bin, a natural or man-made water body, a historical monument, a book exchange booth, and clean public restrooms.

My time in the Lichtenberg Residency allowed me to explore urban ecology. Recording my time by making tracings and rubbings of trees in parks, and drawing what I observed, was my response to transforming terror into tenderness, joy, care and peace.

December, 2023