Hello and apologies for the mass email. I have fallen behind in correspondence about residency. thank you to each of you for your interest in residency at Culture Factory Polymer.
Polymer offers a unique program however it is not for everybody which is why we try to determine if you are generally interested in residency in Estonia or if you have specific reasons to be at Polymer we welcome you and try to prepare you with reasonable expectations.
Things to Know Before You Sleep at Polymer:
We believe the experience of staying at Culture Factory Polymer can be beneficial for some people. Radical changes in your lifestyle require you solve problems; this may stimulate creativity and inform fresh approaches to your work. For some it has been cathartic to stay in Polymer during the Estonian winter, October through May, to explore the limits of body; to learn what one really needs to live well and examine the things we rely on.
The physical conditions of the ruined Soviet era factory are Spartan. In some spaces you may encounter, mold, mushrooms and fungi, peeling paint, noxious dust: Strange smells; some human, some chemical, some unexplained. In winter the conditions are extreme by Nordic Baltic standards due to holes in the floor, walls and ceilings; the latter of which may leak water upon the melting of the snow and ice. The wood burning stoves and chimneys are of poor quality; smoke is commonplace, we become accustomed to the aroma of burning garbage and melted plastic. Even if you don’t touch stair railings, the squalid communal toilet or sink, the rough tools or broken instruments, your hands and fingernails will smudge from the briefest visit to Polymer. The factory building can be dusty, gritty, oily, rotten and toxic; it can feel cold, lonely, depressive and creepy. Brutal stains record gruesome histories on beds and linen still in use at Polymer. The Soviet mark of quality is not scratched completely from the electric stove that electrocutes you only a little bit.
Most of the electrical appliances are at least half broken and require specialized knowledge in their use. You may experience unannounced loss of water and power. You can make as much noise as you want whenever you want so don’t be surprised if people are using power tools, pounding steel or poking a hole through your wall with a hammer drill during hours you associate with quiet and sleep.
There may be a rave party in the room above yours, a rehearsing band in the room next door or a drum circle in the rooftop garden. Depending which side of the building you are on you will feel the bass music from the neighbor’s techno disco or from your window you may see members of the biker club, situated in Polymer, lighting the pavement of the car park on fire with spinning motorcycle wheels. Other times you may feel like the sole resident of an abandoned structure.
We welcome proposals to make the building more accessible for people who can’t climb stairs or ladders, carry stuff, manage in cold conditions or darkness.
You may encounter unwanted visitors in your studio or unexpected silence from locals who earlier pledged their support. Silence, frugal greetings and lack of cordial conversation may leave you feeling neglected or disrespected. You will likely witness; ignorance, arrogance, self destructive behavior, narcissism, self-absorption, laziness, drunkenness, obsessive patterns, temper tantrums, irritability, moodiness, neurosis, hording syndrome, hypochondria, paranoia, mental retardation, mental illness, moments of genius and blindness. The results may range between terrifying spectacles and moments of supreme beauty. Your notions of art will be challenged. Your work will probably be criticized as boring.
You may complain, winge, cry and whimper so I stress; the artist of Polymer will show you no compassion.
Polymer is what you make it; our dysfunctional utopia. For those who want to make something you have a community to support and inspire you. Look closely within the battered walls and you will find warm places and good friends, gardens, saunas, kitchens, games, galleries, workshops, open spaces to create, exhibit and perform. Many local artists in Polymer help visitors with projects, lend tools and offer hospitality; not services supplied organizationally, rather individual acts of care. Your experience may vary depending on the time of year, how busy are the other artists and your social skills. Many people like it here and return to Polymer time after time, some international visitors continue to work within Polymer for years.
If this doesn’t seem like the place for you; I am happy to suggest wonderful residencies in the Baltic States which are clean and friendly.
Not from Europe? You may find Europe strange but you may also need a converter to handle the 220 volts wall power for any plug-in electrical devices you bring with you. Or you need an adapter for your computer which usually has its own converter box on the chord. Adapters and converters are easiest to get in the same place as where the electronics are used. Some phones won’t work with a European SIM card; will yours? What is common in the shops in your place may not be common here so bring what you need. If you come with only your hands in your pockets then Polymer is a good place to learn about improvisation, available materials and simple solutions.
All the best,
Culture Factory Polymer