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Friday, August 19, 2011

Collaboration as Social Praxis

Most artists I know, if asked whether they would give up their artistic practice for a more secure lifestyle, would cheekily reply “over my dead body.” Without surrendering to the artist as outsider or artist as unstable clichés, Hava Liberman and I, as collaborative curators of this show, are interested in what it takes for an artist to survive during this time of economic uncertainty and political frailty. One means of survival is collaboration, and so we are intrigued by the idea of curating a show that asks its participants to not only collaborate within their chosen artist-teams but also with the other artist-teams in the show.

The Surrealist parlor game of the Exquisite Corpse acts as the platform upon which this evolving installation is built. This non-linear means of collaboration developed by the Surrealists to tap into a collective unconscious, when contemporized, offers a particular means of getting at the play, chance, and instigation that might produce alternative ways of experiencing the world creatively. Furthermore, we have conceptualized the needs of artists as a “body,” with each need intrinsic to the functioning of the entire system and whose isolation would threaten the integrity of the whole.

Collaboration does not have a singular characteristic but is a process replete with a multitude of possibilities. It can be exciting, complicated, messy, infuriating, and enlightening, and it has the ability to throw an artist off-balance, challenging preconceived notions related to how one perceives, thinks, and creates. Most artists do not work in pure isolation, but collaboration ups the ante. Collaboration does not always ask the necessary critical questions, but it can perform many critical functions in destabilizing the status quo within the art world and within the broader social/political/economic fabric of our society.

Collaboration functions to broaden our understanding of one another’s ideas and therefore most, though not all, artists collaborate in one way or another. They do this in order to survive as artists and as critical thinkers, to ultimately maintain fluid boundaries, question accepted practices, and keep the creative process from stagnating.

-Laura Boles Faw, August 2011

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