In conversation with Olivier Collet: Homesession, Barcelona

Àngels Miralda in conversation with Olivier Collet

Since 2007 Homesession has been a catalyst for creation in the field of visual arts, with its international residency programme and production grants for Spanish artists. In its constant effort to support artists and promote art, Homesession welcomes proposals that utilise diverse media and practices, with a strong focus on interdisciplinary experimentation.

ÀM: Homesession implies a residential environment – is this the case?

OC: From 2007-2012 Jérôme Lefaure and I started the project in our house. As a former architect, I was interested in doing a project that could collaborate with artists and show work, but not in a traditional way. This is why we developed the idea of a residency programme. We had the idea in 2005 while living in the Raval district in a tiny flat. We had an opportunity to move into a larger space that I could design in nearby Poble Sec. And I designed that specifically as an artist’ space. In 2012 we started with a new space – the programme became bigger to be able to receive more artists and moved away from the domestic influence of the space. The previous project was very site-specific – it always centred on how we lived, our cats, so we moved away from the repetition of that context.

Homesession : WE: ACT, 2015. video recording sound, color, 36 min

ÀM: Homesession is a varied space that comprises a residency, production prizes, event space, and occasional exhibitions. What led you to choose this format?

OC: We were interested in the process of creation, to accompany the artist through a project and its development.

ÀM: How do you choose the artists for the residency and invited programme?

OC: Currently there are different ways. Firstly we invite artists personally, but there are also applications online, lastly we collaborate with institutions who send artists to Barcelona through exchanges. With the institutions, it is a common open-call. We work with the contemporary art centre Art3 in Valence, France. There we do an exchange with artists from that region – artists from Valence come to Barcelona and Catalan artists apply to go to Valence. We have a similar programme with Taiwan. In this case though it is not an exchange but a one-way programme – we do an open call in Taiwan with the culture office.

Ryan Rivadeneyra, Think globally act locally, 2015

ÀM: You have partnerships with many spaces and programmes in the city. How did you initiate these programmes?

OC: Through contact with professionals. We have been contacted by institutions who wanted to collaborate with us. Now we just started a new collaboration with Belgrade. This one is a private initiative there which is quite similar to Homesession. This one will be a two-way exchange.

ÀM: How is the project financed?

OC: We started with our own money at the beginning but from 2010 we became a non-profit organisation. We began receiving funding from the region, the city hall, and from 2013 from the ministry of culture. We also work with private foundations who now finance a mediation programme for the art school. All the artists in our programme then do activities in the art school for instance artist talks, presentations, and explaining their process. This way, the artists can pass on information on how they continued to work after their student experience.

ÀM: Why Barcelona?

OC: We came here in 2002 – before then we lived in Paris and we just wanted a change. We enjoy the social life and the cultural offer of this city.

Ian Alan Paul, The EU Bird Migration Authority, 2013

ÀM: The space fits in neatly with a certain style of working typical in Barcelona, the lack of affordable space makes event-based or mobile projects quite common. How do you see Homesession within this art scene at large?

OC: Yes, based on our experience, what we can see of how people are consuming culture, we chose this event format for different reasons. The economic reason is because we can’t have opening times, but also, we are focused on the social moment and the way that people can talk to the artist, talk to us, we create encounters. People from the art scene here see that it is important to have that contact that is not there with regular opening hours. There is also the experience that we sometimes did 3-week exhibitions open from Thrusday to Saturday and it didn’t really work for us. This is not like Berlin or Paris, there is not the habit of visiting galleries on a certain day. I also work at Joan Prats gallery and it is the same situation there – people attend the openings but not the other days.

ÀM: Finally, Homesession has been operating for over a decade and has even published a book about its past activities, what do you see for the future of the space and is there anything you would like to do that hasn’t been possible so far?

OC: It’s always hard to have some long-term qualification. Everything is based on a) what is going to happen next year b) how much funding we are going to have. Now we are used to this precarity since we have been working in it for 11 years. Ideally, we want to have a bigger space and a programme that can allow more than one resident at the same time. It would be nice for the artist to share their experience with other artists. It would also make the programme more sustainable and attractive for artists coming from abroad. 
We celeberated our first five years of operation with the publication of a book recording the projects and residencies from 2007-2012. At the end of February, we will launch our second publication covering the years 2013-2017 along with a party to celebrate these ten years, so more to come!

Luke Drozd, WIMS, 2016

The Birthday party:

Improvisation Rules

We Can't Wait For Better Times

they are for sale here: