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Sally De Kunst, Alberto de Andrés, Julien Babel, Valentine Paley, Gosie Vervloessem & Julien Vuilleumier

In a house where several people live and work together, the centre is the kitchen: the meeting place where informal exchanges happen. Such was also the case at Arc artist residency in Romainmôtier: the kitchen was the beating heart of the institution. It was a space where artists would gather when they took a break from their research, where they would cook and eat together, where other guests would join in. This book is inspired by that kitchen, by its conviviality, the sharing of food and knowledge, the experiments that took place. 

This book covers a period of four years in the life of Arc artist residency – an institution of the Migros Culture Percentage – from January 2015 to December 2018, under the direction of Sally De Kunst. During this time, Arc continuously re-invented itself, by persistently questioning the residency as an art institution from within and without, challenging values, testing new ways of collaborating and questioning the wider socio-cultural ecology. Arc was more than just a chronology of artists-in-residence, projects or avenues of research. It was a breathing organism, an experience in living and working together, a community of practices created by artists, experts and other guests, an ecosystem in which the sharing of the research was an intrinsic part of the research. With this book we wish to pass on the experiences and knowledge gathered in this period to a broader audience.

This publication is a handbook for artistic collaboration. It is neither a retrospective of Arc nor a documentation of the artistic projects that took place there. Rather it is a tool and a source of inspiration to re-imagine your own practices and lives. The ingredients are the knowledge and experience of the Arc community: its collaborators, residents and other guests. Each chapter of the book starts with a recipe for a meal that was prepared at Arc on a certain occasion, because the easiest and most fundamental way of gathering people, exchanging and collaborating is by cooking and eating together. The chapters will furthermore contain other “recipes” for artistic research and collaboration: texts, instructions, scores, drawings, essays, diaries and more, contributed by artists and other practitioners from various fields who were involved in Arc. 

Obviously it is impossible to represent the complete experience of Arc in this book. Many other people were involved in the residency, many more proposals and approaches could have been included. This is “our” Arc experience: it is the result of a collaboration among a board of editors of six people, of their discussions, shared meals, negotiations and transcultural misunderstandings. It is also the outcome of exchanges with a team of graphic designers who brought in new points of view, and of an unusual collaboration between two publishing houses. 

We invite you to make this handbook your own and turn it into your own work tool. You can read the book chronologically, but to quote Harry Schraemli, the legendary Swiss cocktail master and author of Manuel du bar: this book is not a novel. The chapters offer a loose dramaturgy of the Arc experience, but they could have been put together in a different order, and suggest no hierarchy. This book is now yours: choose whatever you like, use it, add your own knowledge, and pass it on to others. 

Introduction: Vous engager
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