LIA – Leipzig International Art Programme / Spinnerei Leipzig, Germany

LIA – Leipzig International Art Programme / Spinnerei Leipzig, Germany

for fine-, media-, installation- and photo-artists

As close as possible to where art originates

The ‘Baumwollspinnerei’, erected in 1883, succeeded in what so many places alike fail in:
It did not become a brownfield like lots of other urban-industrial locations in Eastern Germany, but a vivid spot within a new branch, letting artistic outcomes and alternative economic attempts flourish.

We all know how much women, especially in the cultural sector, work and how much they achieve.
Here, at the precincts of a former cotton mill, emerged in 1883 at the outskirts of Leipzig, which became an artists’ dream areal, we find another example:
A truly admirable young woman set up a successful artist residency programme, existing since seven years now already.
Anna-Louise Rolland (former family name Kratzsch), CEO, founder and curator of LIA,
is now 34 and mother of a two-year old and a baby.
She agreed with the arduous task setting up an AIR and officially opening it in June 2007, not even having finished her studies of Art History and Cultural Studies.
The lady, originally from the island of Rügen in the North of Germany, was offered this opportunity to create a new residency by the Spinnerei management, with the backing of their full confidence to share the vision of this arising art space.

“Well, the first six months LIA could use the space for free, then we had to pay rent as any other enterprise, gallery and atelier as self-contained private unit has to. It took me three years to be in the black”, she says.

Anna-Louise Rolland in front of a painting by Darren Munce, Australian artist and current resident of LIA, utilizing the window of his studio as sources of inspiration for this artwork.

Young, but already having travelled the world and experimenting at curatorial programmes, museums and galleries e.g. in London, NY and Beijing, Anna-Louise Rolland also already collaborated with EIGEN + ART and its head Judy Lybke before. He was one of the driving forces to settle ateliers and galleries at this place and also to establish the ‘Neue Leipziger Schule’, therewith fostering the world-renowned painter Neo Rauch.
LIA today is providing five to seven resident artists at once the opportunity to live and work in its ateliers, staying between three to six months. So far nearly 200 artists from over 40 countries have been fellows of this AIR – given the chance to present their artworks in an exhibition during a so-called ‘Rundgang’. The ‘Spinnerei-tour’ is something no one of the culturally interested folks of Leipzig and around would ever miss.

This time the open door’s title by LIA was ‘Make yourself ready, my spirit’, presenting artworks from the current residents directly where they are created, at hall 18, 2nd floor.

Three times a year all galleries, studios and art foundations at this place open their doors, always on the second weekend in January, May and September, and usually ending with a legendary party in the early morning.

In addition, LIA organises a winter exhibition and a summer show, so there are five big events featuring its residents. But far more than that:
Anna-Louise Rolland and her assistant, programme coordinator and curator Kristina Semenova, who joined two years ago, are helping to set up contacts with the locals within the art scene and beyond, mediate, show and try to realise any wish of the artist.
One of the main features of the residency is a monthly organised programme including studio visits and artists as well as critiques visiting LIA.
Even a bicycle is provided for each of them – and as it’s a bike city, this is a premise.
Furthermore, Anna-Louise Rolland continues collaborating with former LIA artists. She just curated an exhibition at the Goethe Institute Paris.

She also points out that this endeavour only has been possible with the always courageous and spontaneous support of the citizens and students here.
For example the first exhibition featuring Japanese Art, in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan in Berlin, was realised with the honorary help of five interns.
Furthermore, for the fifth anniversary she installed an exhibition at Messe Leipzig, the fair, seemingly achieving this collaboration with ease.
Every summer also a curated stay at castle Machern is realised by Kristina Semenova, as well as the just published calendar New York – Leipzig. 

Actually, since Leipzig is one of the most welcoming and open-minded middle-sized towns in Germany, it is easy to get a foot into the scene, to set up connections and networks, and to feel at home soon.
As Berlin is just about an hours’ train ride away, so the artistic bonds are also launched there, starting out with a one-day Berlin excursion for the fellows. Besides others, a trip to Bauhaus Dessau is a ‘must’.
Art in creation: partly unfinished works, such as paintings and clay birds, by Cameron Gill.

The facts:

Yes, the attendance fee of 1.100 Euro is quite an amount, but most of the international artists (only German artists cannot be residents) manage to find funding with their national bodies. The application is not project based, but considers the professional track record. There is no age restriction, but the average age is between 25 and 40 of the fellows coming from Japan, Australia, Ukraine, and of course USA.
Why of course? …because there are two established collaborations with annual scholarships; one exchange programme with the New York Academy of Art and another one with the School of Visual Arts New York, selecting their fellows themselves and providing them with the full bursary, also covering travel expenses. Who was the one to raise these partnerships is not hard to guess.
The only sponsor of the programme supporting it from the beginning is BMW, engaging in the regions cultural supply a lot.

Video installations by Sadia Sadia.
Read more about all resident artists at LIA on the website.

So, LIA has made its way by transforming a space into a place – a place where contemporary art can arise under a patronage, within a certain creation line and where needs are met by a suitable infrastructure. Maybe another factor of being this successful is the personal impact of enthusiastic, open-minded and so friendly personalities in the lead.

More info on the LIA homepage and on Facebook.
Read more about the Spinnerei here.

Photos: A.M.; Interview with:
Anna-Louise Rolland, founder and curator, and
Kristina Semenova, curator of LIA – Leipzig International Art Programme
4th August and 13th September 2014.