This residency marked the beginning phase of an ongoing collaboration between Los Angeles-based visual artist, Rodney McMillian, and London-based writer, Caroline Bergvall. The artists spent several visits in residence at the Hammer Museum from November 2008 until July of 2009. Rather than focus on a particular end product or final exhibition, the residency was constructed to be an open-ended period of research and idea development in order to facilitate this unusual collaboration. Splitting their time between London and Los Angeles, the two artists found that one of them was always “out of place” and jet-lagged, which posed both challenges to the collaboration but also opportunities for exploring altered time-sense and the body. The greatest revelation and difficulty of the residency was the realization that although both artists deal with similar themes in their work and both frequently employ performative methods, their more specific skills (Bergvall’s writing process and McMillian’s visual art process) were surprisingly not that easy to reconcile as part of the collaboration. Finding a common ground in process and developing a shared vocabulary of words, images, movement, and music became the intangible product of this collaborative residency.
Part of the curatorial department, the Public Engagement program collaborates with artists to develop and present works that create an exchange with the institution and with visitors. Enacted both inside and outside the galleries, Public Engagement projects range from re-envisioned security guard uniforms to library and orchestra residencies. Public Engagement was established in 2009 thanks to a James Irvine Foundation Arts Innovation Fund grant.