9 May 2013

Comics Residency in Riga I - James Turek

During the whole month of April kuš! hosted the first CUNE comics artist in residence in Riga in cooperation with NOASS. Now James Turek is back in Leipzig and he sent us the following report with pictures (some additional ones added by us):

CUNE Residency RIGA, April 2013

Notes from the field

April 1st, shortly before midnight I arrive in Riga airport and pick up my bag. David Schilter is waving me on..."We have to run to catch the last bus!!" We run across a nearly empty parking lot as snow falls heavily and spring into the bus as the doors close behind us.

This was the first residency I have ever had and the first for kuš! to host. From the beginning until the end (one month later) it was a bit like hurrying through the snow at night, inspiring, new and exciting, and a good feeling of relief when you make it to your destination.

I was not sure exactly what was expected of me and my 'proposed project' seemed to be losing some steam in my head. As I acclimated to the day to day life in Riga much of the first week was spent walking all over, exploring the giant food market, flea markets and second hand shops as well as getting a lay of the land and bus/tram system.

The apartment was great. Centrally located, warm, and quiet. and a nice view with the occasional pigeon or seagull stopping by. I found the kitchen very useful and cooked a lot to save some money.
20€ = 15Lats..ow
Tip: The university has a nice buffet style cafeteria as well as a chain called Lido...Always helpful, especially for a vegetarian like myself to see the food first.

Tram Jam

As holding with my proposal, a group of us got together and rode a tram to the end of its line, got out and explored some new territory, found our way into a park and drew together in a couple cafes (too cold to draw outside) before heading home. I believe that some change occurs when people get outside their normal environment and start to draw, I think it greatly benefits artists but also has positive psychological impact on people to see people engaging in the act of drawing in public, especially when the place may seem unextraordinary or mundane.
Imagine if you saw one or two people drawing every day??

My next expedition nobody came. I don't blame anyone or feel bad. I think it was a bad idea and expected to much from people within such a short time from the first Tram trip. I still jumped on a bus and rode it (unknowingly) all the way out to the beach and watched a guy trying to hangglide for an hour.

The final trip, though only attended by a few, was a bit of a collaboration with Zane Z and we walked around and drew (all on same size paper and recording the exact time of each drawing) in various spots of a small town outside of Riga. This 'Comic Jam Day Journal' , will be on display during the Vecmīlgrāvis cultural festival at the end of May.

Drinkin' and Drawin'

The comix jam nights, set up by David and Sanita, are a really great way to get to know the Latvian crew. There's nothing like getting together with a bunch of people, share some stories, laugh, and pass around some drawings and exercising some comix muscles..

I found the Latvian artists as well as their Estonian comrades all have a very good offbeat sense of humor. It was an extra treat to get to see Tallinn and meet some Estonian comics drawers. The Sildre family graciously hosted a drawing party in their home which was great because Joonas pulled out a lot of awesome books from his collection.

Rolling it all together, I can say the experience for me was extremely positive, inspiring, and eye opening. It is easy to see that everywhere people Europeans, Americans, Russians, etc...Uber Alle!, can have similar negative preconceived notions as to what a place or a country or people are like...but I think the flip side is also true...that we ( in this comics community ) can have similar 'positive' preconceived notions, that within every place/land also exists a percentage of like-minded individuals who can come together and create and laugh and break down some walls in a way only comic artists, illustrators and cartoonist can.

On a final note, I would like to add that one of the most rewarding parts of the trip for me personally, came with not having a computer for the first two weeks, while I was extremely productive and drew about 15 pages of a new comic as well as a series of drawings about my home state of Florida.

You can see them here: http://culturehall.com/portfolio.html?artist=james_j_turek
Although I needed (and appreciated the help) a computer to do some 'real' work, I found not being 'connected' for a couple weeks was very helpful. I also listened to a lot of radio: Radio NABA and 101...good stuff!

I would like to give a big thanks to everyone who made it possible and to all the help along the way making this a really good experience.


Any questions or comments or pictures, etc..

1 comment:

  1. With interest read this report.
    So lending computer was bad idea, other wise we could see more productive work of James, but I am very happy with my new Kuš! comic collection. Thank you very much!