Moving Artists (MA) is an independent, artist-run nonprofit based in Bilbao, Spain. Working at the intersection of human rights and the arts, MA is dedicated to facilitating mobility and cultural exchange between countries that, for any reason, have restricted access to one another. In particular, MA seeks to enable movement and transnational exchange for art professionals whose work is threatened by situations of conflict, crisis, instability or censorship.
Prolonged war conflicts and humanitarian crises often lead to closed borders and cultural isolation, thus conditioning cultural production within affected regions and distorting cultural perceptions externally. By opening on-going channels of movement and mutual interaction between artists under threat and outside artistic communities, MA seeks to create vibrant new spaces for artistic production—spaces of curiosity, collaboration and empowered meaning.
MA’s primary initiatives are short-term residency programs in Spain, in which selected artists from culturally isolated countries are provided with logistical, conceptual, and financial support to advance the production of new artistic works. Through partnerships with various cultural institutions, including Diputacion Foral de Bizkaia, the BilbaoArte Foundation and the University of the Basque Country, MA residents are encouraged to collaborate with local communities, and they are given platforms to share and disseminate their work.
Beyond our current residency programs, MA continually looks for new ways to encourage the movement of art professional across political and ideological borders—both away from and towards conflict and post-conflict scenarios. In our increasingly complex global community, the protection and reciprocal sharing of living arts heritage is not only central to diplomacy, it is essential to resilience.
To carry out artists exchange & residency programs to promote the art practice and cultural exchange.
To launch an international talent contest searching for cultural projects that could be developed on the ground (crisis & post-crisis destinations).
To celebrate an annual conference on the topic that will led to a White Paper publishing.
To map & visibilize a net of art professionals and art contexts within non accessible locations.
“Creative vitality is essential for the development of vibrant cultures”
IXONE SADABA | Co-Founder
Ixone Sadaba first travelled to Iraq in 2008, invited by the Delfina Entrecanales Foundation in London, during a series of exchanges between Europe and the Middle East. Her destination city was Halabja, an enclave on the border with Iran, bombed by Saddam Hussein in 1988 with chemical weapons. A bombing that subsequently “triggered” the Azores meeting, which would set the stage for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Ixone decided to return on her own in 2009 and 2010 with the challenge of producing an artistic project and also doing voluntary work teaching at the local art school.
Due to the political and economic crisis affecting the area, Ixone was unable to return until 2016. During her trips, the artist was able to build a good network of contacts with families, government, institutions, teachers, associations, etc. Despite the infrastructure today still being very weak due to the economic and political crisis the country is going through, the willingness of its people to receive and accommodate, and to get out and discover is as strong as their need to do so.
As an artist, Ixone values the importance of the experience gained from an artistic exchange program, and how it is put into practice. Hence the creation of this exchange project. Which is born of the need to allow other artists to gain the same experience. And therefore artistic practice forms the nucleus and starting point for this project. An exchange is an experience, based on artistic practice, without which it would not be possible.
The Moving Artists project began in early 2016 when Ixone met Ignacio Rodríguez, while he was working on his 14 lawyers project (private and independent organization that works to tell, explain and change the situation of many lawyers in the world persecuted for defending their human rights.) Together they begin the project whose generic purpose is to protect and ensure cultural practice in countries at risk or in situations of migratory isolation.
The association also pays special attention to countries were artists expectations are dashed as a consequence of armed conflicts, trade wars, political and economic crisis, and humanitarian emergencies. The complexity of such situations generally results in a hardening of conditions for mobility, and the social and cultural isolation of communities. The work of the association involves facilitating the mobility of artists, art and cultural professionals, to and from such areas.