TORONTO GALLERY EVENTS

UNPACK STUDIO is an independent platform for artistic collaboration based in Toronto, Canada. It is aimed at coordinating and curating contemporary art projects.

Our mandate is to provide a context for aesthetic research developed in the cultural, linguistic and political articulations of knowledge, particularly reflecting on the understandings of migration, race, gender and power. We are interested in investigations aimed at exploring the conceptual intersections and points of rupture of these definitions.

We seek to potentiate artworks that reflect on the negotiations that discrete concepts and fields of knowledge are subjected to when extrapolated to other cultural spaces or disciplines, whether through life experience or research. Our objective is to promote the work of artists and curators that question the validity of definitions as absolutes, in light of the trans-disciplinary nature of contemporary thinking.

HAVANA ART RESIDENCY

The UNPACK STUDIO Havana residency is open to visual artists, curators and researchers. The residency runs from three to seven weeks and comprises of independent workdays, meetings with an internationally recognized Art Contact twice a week and one or more presentations at the prestigious universities of Havana.

The artist can create local-foreign collaborations, interact with contemporary Cuban practitioners and give Cuban art students the opportunity to see diverse practices. Creatives can research, produce new work individually or in collaboration, network with artists, art students, galleries, curators, and explore Havana.

UNPACK STUDIO residency in Cuba is strategically situated in Vedado, a central and popular neighbourhood of Havana, with easy access to all areas of the city (see map). There is walking distance access to food markets, stores, internet wifi spots, jazz bars, swimming pools, art galleries, cinemas and theatres.

To apply to UNPACK Havana art residency, click here

BLOGGING FROM HAVANA

JENNIFER RAY @UNPACK HAVANA

Upon my arrival to Havana, it quickly became clear that Cuba is not an easy place to navigate for a foreigner, much less if you don’t speak Spanish. During my stay, I worked closely with Unpack Studio‘s residency program to arrange studio visits with artists’ whose work was relevant to my own, plan excursions outside of the city, and organize meetings with some of the country’s most prominent curators.

Having participated in other residency programs, I was particularly struck by how carefully tailored this program was to my specific needs. The organizers are exceptionally good at, and put great effort into, understanding your logistical needs, working methods, and professional trajectory. They functioned as well-connected fixers, mentors, translators, and guides. Need a boat in a country where private boat ownership is more or less illegal? Need to find an outpost of Havana’s DIY (and also illegal) intranet? These guys can make anything happen.

If you are an artist wishing to produce work in Cuba, I couldn’t recommend this program any more highly. It’s a great deal, and you’ll be well taken care of while still getting an experience that takes you far off the tourist track.

Jennifer Ray
Photographer

Assistant Professor of Photo Media
School of Art, Design and Creative Industries
Wichita State University
jenniferray.net

PETER KINGSTONE @UNPACK HAVANA

My residency in January  2015, was the second time I had been to Havana. The first time I went, I wanted to see the sites, experience the space, and try to understand how to move about the streets. The second time I went I wanted to meet people and start producing artwork. Having the opportunity to work with Unpack Studio was amazing. Unpack organized a talk at ISA Universidad de las Artes, and I was lucky to be able to do a presentation to curators of the Wifredo Lam Center, who produce the International Havana Biennale. Unpack introduced me to many artists that were working on similar ideas. To complete the work I wanted to do on issues ranging from economics, piracy and queer visibility, Unpack was also able to connect me with people that could help me out. Unpack Studio is truly a member of both the artistic community and the local community of Havana.

Havana is magical. I was trying to come up with a word to describe my experience, and ended with magical. It was at times complicated and hard to understand, a little scary, but always wondrous. It is very different from my home in Toronto. One has to forego the amenities that you may know, and embrace the amenities that Havana has, from being close with the neighbours, to hearing roosters crow all day, to wandering the Malecón sea wall, to the magic of the grocery store and trying to understand daily life as en la luchita.

Having just returned I am also ready to go back. I have work to finish, artists that I will be working with and opportunities to show in Cuba. I have started to learn how to speak Spanish.

Peter Kingstone
Visual Artist
Visual & Media Arts Officer at the Toronto Arts Council