General information

Brief description of organisation

Despina is an independent space committed to develop platforms for research, production and exchange in the fields of art and cultural activism.

Active since January 2013, Despina has been established as a non-profit association in 2015. The space – a 400 m² historical building located in the city centre of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – comprises several art studios. Despina runs an international art residency programme alongside a dynamic agenda of exhibitions, workshops, courses, performances, talks, film screenings, among other activities.

The projects developed by Despina are based around the following proposals:
– create a lively and supportive environment for the development and exhibition of contemporary art, instigating critical thinking
– facilitate experimentation and innovation in contemporary art practices by stimulating dialogue between artists and across cultures
– support and strengthen connections between art and activism
– widen access to contemporary art, fostering the participation and visibility of historically marginalized agents
– contribute to the urban and cultural revitalization of the area where the space is located

Despina has developed collaborations with several organizations and institutions across the globe, such as Central Saint Martins – University of the Arts London, Diagonale Arts and the Arts Council of Montreal, Fruitmarket Gallery and the British Council. Despina is also a member of the Network Partnership of the Prince Claus Fund.


Despina is one of the cities imagined by Italo Calvino in his work “The Invisible Cities”, originally published in 1972. In this book, the Italian author describes a city that looks different to those arriving by land or by sea, suggesting a reflection on the contradiction and duality of the human spirit as well as the diversity of perspectives that a single object can provide.

Organisation founded in


Brief description of residency program

DESPINA RESIDENCY PROGRAMME is designed for artists
and curators wishing to immerse themselves in their work and/or research. We provide them with the space to explore practices, concepts, new ideas and materials, and to develop a project while receiving feedback and support. The selected artists/curators have the chance to live and work in Rio de Janeiro and to participate in a range of activities such as talks, meetings, studio visits and exhibition tours. Participants are also encouraged to propose talks and workshops, and to learn about the socio-cultural and political scenario in Brazil. The support, network and creative environment offered by Despina Residency Programme encourages professional/artistic development and international contacts.

Residency program since


Disciplines and media
  • Visual Art
Type of organisation
  • Independent Association/Foundation

Residency conditions

Duration of residencies
  • between 1 and 3 months
Number of artists resident at one time


Companions allowed
  • Partners
Expenses paid by artist
  • Travel
  • Supplies
  • Food
Expectations of the artist
  • Leading Workshop or Class
  • Exhibition
Expenses paid by the organisation
  • Housing
Application who/how

Open Call

Selection procedure

By Committee

Presentation of artists' work

Exhibition at end of Residency

Description of residency



  • Internet Connection
  • Library
  • Kitchen
Number of studios


Type and size of studios

Private Studio

  • Private Apartment
Working language(s)
  • English
  • Portugese
Other activities happening at the space
  • Workshops
  • Presentation
  • Exhibitions