A community of artists, called Sprinters

Former residents and people from Timelab’s broader artists network have gathered occasionally over the years. This includes a diverse group of people from academics, designers, neighbours, to activists, engineers and policy makers.  Since spring 2017, they were invited to take part in the yearly Sprint. We call them Sprinters.

The ‘Sprint’ is a concept first used in open source software development. A book publishing sprint is an intensive live work session to decide on the updates to be released in the next edition. What has been done in the past year? What can be evaluated as a positive contribution?What is good enough to be integrated into the core system? The sprint ends with a release of the new version that can be used by the whole community of users. The group of sprinters in Timelab releases new concepts to be implemented and tested over the following year. It opens up new opportunities for a bigger group of stakeholders.

The Sprinters are in charge of conceptualising, implementing and evaluating different activities that support the livelihood of the group and create a generative network of committed artists. In 2019 these events are the Sprint (Feb), Introduction Week (June), Residency (Oct-Dec), Evaluation Week (Dec). They decide on the selection procedure of the residents and the allocation of the budget with those residents.

Current and founding Sprinters are Rasa Alksnyte, Z. Blace, Vanessa Brazeau, Marc Buchy, Stefan Klein, Andrew Paterson, Gosie Vervloessem

The group of sprinters is well defined, with clear boundaries, but is not a closed group. The group grows through the spiral process of onboarding.

As a community, Sprinters have a set of unique rights and duties.

  • As a group, they decide on activities and processes.
  • They get a substantial budget allocated by Timelab to work with.
  • They get access to a basic income when they commit to becoming one of the yearly buddies for new residents.
  • They engage to follow up on agreements with partners and Timelab on, for example, reporting, documenting and logistics.
  • As part of the Trinity, they prepare and follow up on the organisation of events such as the Introduction Week, Evaluation Week and Yearly Sprinters Event.

They agree on the shared values and dream of the Network of Communities:

  • Share knowledge and expertise with peers
  • Produce locally, reproducibly and repairably; or do not produce
  • are open to dissonance and invite new perspectives
  • always look for flexible and adjustable systems
  • Identify complementarity beyond differences
  • strive for mutual contribution and equity
  • connect and strengthen by free contribution
  • create trust and safety by relying on peers

 

Being a Sprinter, the artist as a researcher fosters a lifelong engagement to exercise humankind as a whole (Schafaff, 2018, Commonism, A New Aesthetics of the Real, p 345) that will encourage and support others to experiment with a different life. Not only as a concept, but as a practical guide to a sustainable livelihood.

Supported by a network of professionals providing feedback, called Reflectors

The sprinters take care of a reflection board to give feedback and be critical challengers of their creations. From time to time they produce written comments and various forms of reflection.

Agree on temporary roles for organisers, called Buddies and the Trinity

Within the group of Sprinters, there are specific roles being designed. The Trinity is a group of 3 that is accountable for organising the events. This is a paid, assigned job.

The Buddies are there for the all-round support of new residents. They are connected to the residents at the end of the Introduction Week through an organic pairing process depending on the connection that develops between sprinters and residents. Once a Buddy, the Sprinter can rely on a basic income for that year.

Create interdependence within a network of communities

The community of sprinters is an autonomous group working within the mutually agreed guidelines of the organisation of Timelab.  It is one of the communities of the network of communities in Timelab. Other groups are makers, neighbours, coaches, and reporters.

Hosted in a physical space: De Schuur

Most of the activities are centred around the physical space in the Dampoort Neighbourhood in Ghent. This 1800 sqm renovated industrial heritage building is an open space where the network of communities of Timelab become visible and interact.

The mission and vision of De Schuur is:

De Schuur is an independent non-profit initiative that seeks to inspire, foster positive (inter)action, and give room to practical experiments.

To achieve this, we are developing a new space in the city of Ghent.

In this urban laboratory, we peer between and beyond systems. We enable constructive experiments, local ingenuity and activities that contribute to the soft global movement towards a more positive and sustainable city.

We are a community of communities, each with its own game rules, activities, and flavour. But we share the dream, the space, and the vision of De Schuur.

Organise an artistic research residency as part of a spiral process to enter the community

As the mission of Timelab is ‘giving Time, Space and Reflection for a society on the move’, the residency program provides time and space. It is however not intended for for isolation, contemplation and creative soul-searching. Located in the heart of the city of Ghent, the experience is  one of inevitable connection with the environment and social context. Here, supporting the need for unpressured, concentrated time and space, enables creating trusting relationships with every being encountered. The defined time period invites exploration, inspiration and learning new skills. It welcomes the mutualising of resources and enabling of encounters amongst the communities, visitors and participants.

Apart from the autonomous position of the artists, there is a strong connection to the group of artists based on the relationship with their buddies. The resident-to-be will learn about the system and the purpose of the residency program as a spiral process of onboarding.

This onboarding process begins with the selection of a long-list of artists recommended by the group of sprinters. The sprinters discuss their reasons for their recommendations and a group decision is made for a short-list of artists. These are invited to an Introduction Week organised by the Trinity, during which they will co-define and discuss the program, timeline and budget of the residency period in the fall. If a selected artist does not wish to take part in the residency after this process, they are offered a fee for their participation in the Introduction Week and free to decline their participation. Buddies are introduced and connected to each resident. During the 3 month residency, artistic research is conducted by all residents, individually or as a group. At the end of this period, an Evaluation Week takes place, in which the Artists, Buddies and some invited Sprinters and Reflectors evaluate the possible onboarding of the residents. The onboarding is officially finalised by the onboarding process during the Spring Sprinters Event in February.

Roles

Sprinters A group of artists gathering every year to ‘Sprint’, this is evaluating the last year and setting outlines for the next year. This closed group grows through the residency program and has a specific set of rules, duties and rights.

Reflectors Reporters and commentators that produce texts, pictures, video and any other medium needed to capture the process and questions that rise during the process.  

Buddies A group of sprinters selected based up on the needs of the residents.

Trinity A group of 3 sprinters that organise a yearly introduction week.

Residents Selected group of artists entering the onboarding program by a 3 months residency.

Board A network of external eyes to give feedback and challenge the sprinters.

Key terms

Commoning The social practices used by commoners in the course of managing shared resources and reclaiming the commons. The term describes ways of bringing people together to activate the power of social cooperation to get things done for the greater good. Commoners live in close connection to shared resources. Urban commons are those shared resources that are managed and maintained by a well defined group of commoners, led by their own rules. (more reads: David Bollier, Michel Bauwens)
Artistic research Artistic research means that an artist produces an art work and researches the creative process, thus doing fieldwork and adding to the accumulation of knowledge. The knowledge that artistic research strives for is a felt knowledge. This research is not necessarily only carried out by an artist.  The attribute artistic describes the making of a mode of artistic experience. Deliberately adaptive and fluid in its forms and principles, artistic research is an established term in higher education since the 1990s. (More to read: Florian Schneider, Commonism, New aesthetic of the real, 2018)
Spiral process The spiral is an open ended form of natural movement.  Created by the irrational number called Pi. The protocol stays the same, but the flow changes by every circle. the spiral process explain the way the yearly circles of onboarding new Sprinters leads to a growing amount of people and reciprocal interactions.
Onboarding the process of integrating a new member into an organization and its culture to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours to become effective as an insider; also known as organizational socialization.  The most commonly used strategy is creating and following a checklist. Origin: The word came into existence in the 1970s, and gained popularity in business circles in the last decade.
Residency Artist-in-residence programs give creative practitioners time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They open space and time for reflection, research, presentation and/or production.  Residency opportunities for artists, academics, writers and curators have existed since the 1980s. (More to read: P. Gielen, Nico Dockx)