Thread

Sinthian, Senegal

Thread is a residency program and cultural center built in close collaboration with the non-profit Le Korsa. This residency program allows local and international artists to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, the southeastern region of Senegal. It houses two artists’ dwellings, as well as ample indoor and outdoor studio space.

© Giovanni Hänninen

About the Residency

Thread posits that art, culture, and architecture should be supported in tandem with agriculture, education, and health.

Thread is a cultural center and artist's residency program in Sinthian, a remote village in eastern Senegal near the Gambia River and the border with Mali. In close collaboration with Le Korsa, it enables artists from around the world to advance their work in an exceptional setting, and serves as platform for people from throughout the Tambacounda region to share their own stories with a wide audience that extends internationally.

Thread's imaginative building by Toshiko Mori has a remarkable impact. Besides being an uplifting space in which artists work on their own projects, it serves the local people as a base for agricultural programs, language and health classes, markets, parties, music performances, and sports. At the same time, it helps the local population in practical ways; the roof collects and retains rainwater, creating a viable source for 40% of the village's domestic water needs, and it even provides electrical outlets where villagers charge their cellphones and a small library that attracts lots of visitors. Thread was designed to be a flexible and evolving public space, and the local population uses it in a variety of ways: it has become home to music and dance festivals, soccer tournaments, daily study halls, and village meetings.

Thread is best suited for artists that are able to work independently in their studio. We do not expect collaborations with local artisans, rather, we are interested in the convergence of everyday rural endeavors with the visiting artists’s visual arts practices. 

History

Josef Albers often extolled the wonders of experimentation, deeming it more vital to the mere accumulation of information too often emphasized in education. Thread has been built in accord with these values.

Designed pro-bono by Toshiko Mori Architect, and built by a local team of contractors, Thread combines local materials and building customs with an innovative design and specific geometry. It won an AIA National Honors award, was short-listed for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, selected for the 2014 Venice Biennale, won two Architizer awards, and was named as one of the best buildings and projects of 2015 by many notable journals, including Architectural Record, WIRED Magazine, among others.

Local masons and villagers provided their sophisticated knowledge of working with bamboo, brick, and thatch. Meanwhile Toshiko Mori Architect via lead designer Jordan MacTavish innovated the application of those materials in a new geometry, creating a structure that provides for the village while acting as a great source of pride for the masons, the people of Sinthian, and the region of Tambacounda.

Thread’s socio-cultural role is most pronounced in its function as an agricultural hub for Sinthian and the surrounding villages. Its staff provides the community with sustained agricultural and organizational training, while the physical site offers several gardens that locals cultivate for sustenance and as an income source. In addition to being served by a bore well, the building’s roof collects and retains rainwater, creating an ongoing water supply for these agricultural projects, which is crucial during the eight-month dry season.

Thread posits that art, culture, and architecture should be supported in tandem with agriculture, education, and health, and that all of these sectors support one another.

Applications

We are currently open for applications for residencies in late 2023 and 2024. To apply for one of our residencies, please fill out the form here. The deadline for applications is January 8, 2023.

For any questions, please contact Matthias Persson, Artist Residencies Director.
mpersson@albersfoundation.org

Duration

Thread invites artists and writers of any medium or style. Residencies last four weeks. There will be two artists in residence at a time between the months of August and May; the residency is closed during June and July.

Financing

Food and board, all travel within Senegal (from arrival to departure) and a modest materials budget are included. We do not cover travel to and from Senegal. In special cases there is the possibility of assistance from the Regina Tierney Fund for Visiting Artists.