Each year United Media Arts (UMAS) invites international artists to live and work in our facilities in Durham, Ontario, Canada for up to two months. Artists are typically supported by their own country and are given the opportunity to create new work, explore a different culture and exhibit. UMAS also coordinates sending Canadian artists to a residency in Krems, Austria.

Background

UMAS is a collective of artists who work together to foster activity and dialogue around international media art and exchange between contemporary artists.

UMAS began in 1983 by commissioning artists to make videotapes. After it had produced a dozen works by artists it started to publish and promote them in a videotape anthology called DIDEROT. There are currently four issues.

In 1986 UMAS hosted a symposium to analyze and challenge the relationship between video art producers and television broadcasters. Representatives from the mainstream media, regulatory agencies and alternative broadcasters such as Global Village and the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation were on hand to discuss their policies towards video art and independent producers.

Recently UMAS has begun to tackle the question of international dialogue around the media arts. In 1991 it organized an exhibition of Canadian video art which was shown at museums and galleries in Europe.

In October 1993, UMAS hosted an international exhibition of video art. This event was curated by four individuals: Jean-Paul Fargier (France), Jean Gagnon (Canada), Anna Steininger (Austria) and Maureen Turim (USA), and included 20 videotapes and video installations from around the world.

UMAS operates in the small town of Durham, Ontario, two hours northwest of Toronto. It has a gallery/studio in an historic mill on the Saugeen River.

The Artists in Residence Program

The creative residencies for contemporary artists at United Media Arts in Durham, Canada, are unique in their approach to supporting artists. Established in 1993 to cultivate international dialogue, UMAS's residency program offers the following opportunities:

  • It provides space, facilities and resources for experimentation and production of works in media art, interactive media and visual art, and contributes to further artistic professional growth.
  • It encourages artists to explore a concept or experiment with a new technique and to engage and communicate with local artists through studio visits, dialogue and collaboration.
  • It creates viewing opportunities for the public through the exhibition of the created artwork, lectures and presentations at art colleges, artist-run centres and public art galleries.
  • It offers Austrian artists opportunities to view Canadian art during their visits, increasing the potentiality for reciprocal exchanges in the future.

Artists working in a wide range of media, from site specific installations to performance, are chosen on the basis of the scope and innovation of their work. The residencies stimulate the exchange of ideas and practices between foreign and local artists. Lectures and exhibitions create the opportunity for an in-depth discussion about the practices and ideas that are evolving in other places. These discourses have reverberating effects long after the visiting artists complete their residencies.

Since 2001 United Media Arts and the province of Niederösterreich, Austria have been collaborating on an ongoing artist exchange between Austria and Canada. In 2001 Ilse Gassinger went to Krems to work on her Being Malevich project which was shown at Friends of the Night in Vienna and in Krems. In 2003 Corinna Ghaznavi was invited to Krems as a visiting curator. In 2005 Toronto-based artist, Sandor Ajzenstat, will reside in Krems from August to October and exhibit at the IG Kunst in Vienna. In exchange Alien Productions members Andrea Sodomka, Martin Breindl and Norbert Math from Vienna will live, work and perform in Durham from August to September 2005 as part of UMAS's artist-in-residence program..

The curator, organizer and supervisor of the program is Ilse Gassinger, an artist from Vienna who has lived and worked in Durham since 1990.