The Stay at Home Residency series
Antonio Roberts

Antonio Roberts
Birmingham Algorave. Photo: Marcin Sz

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, The New Art Gallery Walsall initiated a series of remote residencies to support artists to produce work from their homes. Departing from the Gallery’s usual emphasis on making and sharing work within the context of the Gallery’s purpose-built studio space, artists were encouraged to find creative approaches to developing their practice amid imposed national restrictions and, in particular, to explore the benefits and possibilities of engaging with an online audience.


 

Following an open-call to artists based in the West Midlands, the Gallery supported three artists with month-long opportunities between May and July 2020 and ongoing curatorial guidance. The selected artists were Farwa Moledina, Faye Claridge and Antonio Roberts.

 

Residency 3: Antonio Roberts (1 – 29 July 2020)

 

Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator. Through his practice, he explores ideas around ownership and authorship in an age impacted by digital technology. Antonio usually prepares and produces his videos and performances at home for exhibition in gallery settings or live dissemination. This process involves long periods spent in front of a computer screen.

 

While his creative output remained restricted to the home and his planned performances impacted by travel restrictions, Antonio sought to explore how a place of residence might act as both a malleable material, a place for learning and a space for the dissemination of work. He set out to reduce his reliance on a computer as a means of producing work and fulfil a long-term desire to learn film and sound production techniques.

 

Without pressure to produce exhibition-ready work, the residency afforded Antonio much-needed time to expand his technical knowledge and make a narrative-led film using filmed footage supplemented with sounds collected from within the home. Using materials (digital books and tutorial videos) and equipment at his disposal (DSLR camera, microphone, tripod, lights), Antonio moved away from his decade-long approach of making videos through computer animation to produce a short film focused on looking out of a window.

 

 

Windows Explorer, 2020 (2:46 mins) represents Antonio’s desire to be out in the world again. The film is a document to the artist’s shrinking world during lockdown, where social engagement and participation was reduced to the act of looking out/into various windows: his home office window or screen-based ones on Zoom, Skype, Teams or Jitsi. The work takes inspiration from Katharina Kastner’s 2019 film, Villa Empain and the work of Trinidadian new media and photographic artist, Rodell Warner.

*Please be aware this contains flashing imagery 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happening upon Villa Empain when browsing the streaming site Mubi, Antonio was immediately drawn to Kastner’s meditative portrait of an Art Deco house in Belgium. Her shots of the villa swimming pool, surrounding trees and sun pouring through a window feature minimal camera movement, an approach that seemed to suggest possibilities for Antonio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warner’s economical ‘mash-up’ approach, which characteristically involves taking a single archive picture and adding a drone soundtrack with flickering effects, also impressed Antonio as a straightforward way of achieving depth and telling a story, especially when viewed as a collection of pictures.

*Please be aware this contains flashing imagery 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Antonio reflects on his residency journey in a three-part blog, sharing the processes and challenges involved with making a film:

https://www.hellocatfood.com/the-stay-at-home-residency-part-1/

https://www.hellocatfood.com/the-stay-at-home-residency-part-2/

http://www.hellocatfood.com/the-stay-at-home-residency-part-3/