In February 2001, the doors of BAC's newly renovated Björkanderska warehouse in Visby harbour opened to the public. It was the Swedish choreographer Efva Lilja's collaboration with the American artist Jene Highstein that was presented to the public - the dance performance A Gentle Cut. The opening of the BAC was preceded by several years of intensive preparation. The association Östersjöns konstcenter / Baltic Art Center was founded in 1999 by several art organisations around the Baltic Sea, including the Soros Center for Contemporary Art in Vilnius and Tallinn and Mare Articum in St. Petersburg. However, it was the Gotland County Council and the Swedish Arts Council that took the initiative to create the BAC International Contemporary Art Centre. The renovation of the Björkanderska warehouse was funded by the EU and the municipality of Gotland. The new art institution was supported by EU funds, the municipality, Baltic Sea Region initiatives and the Swedish Arts Council. However, in 2007 the art gallery was closed due to lack of funding and it was decided to transform BAC into a residency.
During the six years that BAC operated as an art space, the institution developed its own art and artist-centred profile, presenting 25 exhibitions and numerous events to the local Gotland audience. Both established and younger artists came to try out new approaches that changed the focus of their art practice. When the art gallery became a residence, the profile remained the same: to support artists to explore, experiment and try new things in a place where this was allowed - even desired. As a result, Gotland is one of the places in Sweden that most often features in the work of international visual artists who have worked in the country.
Today BAC is a project-based international residency for contemporary art and has left the original address, but the core of the programme, supporting artistic production and processes, remains the same. The focus of a BAC residency is on the collaborations and the project that the artist carries out on Gotland and in exchange with people and stakeholders all over the island. Since its inception, BAC has produced about 100 art projects with artists from all over the world.
In 2021 we celebrated BAC’s 20th anniversary online, through a series of visits in the archive of unique artists projects that have been commissioned since we opened to the public in 2001. For example an excerpt from Diptych, Production-in-Residence 2006-2011, by Fiona Tan.