On Revamping the Exquisite Corpse
This show joins two themes that on the surface seem dissimilar. On the one hand we were inspired to make an exquisite corpse, a connected piece that would fill the gallery and employ surprise and chance, and on the other hand by the concept of artists’ needs, the challenges that artists face today. What these two themes share is a reliance on collaboration and a stubborn resistance to assimilation in the mainstream.
The Surrealists used the game of the Exquisite Corpse in an effort to bypass the constraints of rational thought and tap into the shared unconscious. Although the idea of the subconscious seems dated, its basis, a reaction against the "reign of logic" which gave rise to the first world war and the rise of fascism, is still relevant today. In a 1934 lecture in Brussels, Andre Breton stated that that "in capitalist society, hypocrisy and cynicism have now lost all sense of proportion and are becoming more outrageous every day". In our recent history of war, financial crisis, and overblown corporate greed, there is a loss of that "sense of proportion" as well.
The exquisite corpse is by definition a connected, collaborative effort. Like the Surrealists, the artists in this show decided upon the rules for the Exquisite Corpse game and chose needs that resonated for them. Through this democratic process we learned that artistic needs are complex and involve much more than just adequate food, clothing, shelter and time. We also came into abrupt contact with the artists' needs for ownership and authority over their work. We realized through the popularity of this project that we had tapped into another need, the need for collaboration in order to survive and be seen, especially in tough times.
When artists work to fulfill their needs for creativity, they are actually caring for a corpse, or body, of sorts. Artistic production (or reproduction) involves a birth, the birth of a creative concept that requires typical aspects of parenting, such as nurturance, education, and discipline in order to grow. Thus it is no accident that an artist’s production is commonly known as a "body of work." It stands to reason that the communal articulation of our creative needs creates a body as well.
-Hava Liberman, August 2011