Common Bond was an international collaboration project between myself, and photographers Rosita McKenzie (Edinburgh) and Jan Bölsche (Berlin). Common Bond followed on from the success of CAE’s previous project Through the Looking Glass, Dimly developed by myself, Rosita and Australian based photographer Andrew Follows, which saw Rosita McKenzie develop a body of work in response to Andrew’s work and encouraged a peer-mentoring relationship between the two artists during Andrew Follows Edinburgh residency. Where Through the Looking Glass saw Rosita take on the role of “host artist”, the Common Bond residency allowed Rosita to become the “visiting artist” and pursue a new peer-mentoring relationship with Berlin based photographer Jan Bölsche.
The initial project was developed in partnership over a year featuring a 2-week artist residency programme, a series of photo-shoot sessions in selected locations around the city; meetings and studio visits with Berlin based artists and photographers; a practical photography workshop led by Rosita and Jan for both sighted and non-sighted participants; and a public discussion group on the theme of normality, ableism and genetic engineering in September 2013.
Central to the residency was Rosita’s development of a new body of work in response to the concept of the “common bonds” between Britain and Germany. Rosita’s investigation of the city from an historical and cultural heritage perspective, interprets this visually rich city from her perspective as a blind person.
The residency enabled Rosita to forge new international connections with other artists and audiences and gave her an opportunity to help people with disabilities participate within contemporary art despite geographic and language barriers. Building on from her previous projects such as the Sight Unseen group exhibition in California, the residency has strengthened links between blind photographers Berlin and in Scotland.
The project continued with Jan, Rosita and myself developing and delivering further Blind Photography Workshops in other cities, exhibitions and the establishment of an international network of blind photographers.
Photos and further information can be found here.