You are on page 1of 15

TH E COLLABORATIVE TU RN

Selected by Beatrice von Bismarck

This text evolved out of the two-part symposium TAKING THE MATTER INTO COMMON HANDS, which Johanna Billing, Lars Nilsson, and myself co-curated at laspis in Stockholm, in the fall of 2005. The title was a conscious play with language-grammatically

incorrect, yet embodying a form of "self-organization." For the symposium, the aftist Michael Beutler redesigned the project studio, constructing simple wooden benches in two different heights and adding brightly colored cushions. They were arranged to create a multidirectional situation, as opposed to the typical frontal setup. Following the symposium, the benches were given away to members of the audience.
The text first appeared in the book Taking the Matter lnto Common Hands: On Contemporary Art and Collaborative Practices, which documents the symposium and includes contributions by all participants. The book was edited by Johanna Billing, Lars Nilsson, and myself, and designeO Oy Oate. lt was published by Black Dog Publishing in2OO7.

I77.

THECOLLABOBATIVETUBN

The project studio al laspis, designed by Michael Beutler.

Video conference with Henriette Heise, of Copenhagen Free University.

Arlists and co-curators


Lars Nilsson and Johanna Billing in the audience at

the symposium.

One of the benches from the symposium, which ended up in Pia Sandstrm's studio.

178

SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING

179

THECOLLABORATIVETURN

THE COLLABORATIVE TURN

The story is well known: in 1999, two Paris-based aftists, Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, acquired the rights to a Manga character from the Japanese agency Kworks for 46,000 yen. Normally, such characters are sold to anime and videogame companies without the time to create their own. This character has a name-Annlee-and a face, and she belongs in the production companies' ample inventory of peripheral figures. For that reason, she is also one of the cheapest. With only a name and a two-dimensional face, she is destined to disappear from any story in which she happens to land. The artists, however, have other plans. After having redeemed the figure-an insignificant extra in the popular commercial cultural arena-they introduce it to a new world, a mixed economy: contemporary art. Togethe they draw on and establish a network of artists and other cultural producers, inviting each to fill the empty shell of Annlee with content, via video or other forms of aft. The pafticipants shape episodes that can function as independent artworks, together forming not only a collaborative art project and an exhibition, but a new order of identity as well. ln the process, a temporary community of seventeen persons is created. No Ghost Just a Shell was a project-specific collaboration between a loose network of friends and colleagues, in which the artists gathered together around a shared interest-"a sign around which a community has established itself," as Huyghe has suggested-but also a phenomenon around which a particular energy has crystallized.l However, the aim was at the same time to give this "flashing sign" certain rights. After a grand farewell fireworks display, and equipped with a casket made from IKEA furniture parts, Annlee was allowed to pass away after four years. ln conjunction with her demise, Huyghe and Parreno handed over their rights to Annlee to a newly formed association in exchange for one euro. This association guaranteed that the image of Annlee would never appear again in anything other

1. Piere Huyghe, Stefan Kalmf, Phlppe Pareno, Beatrix RrJf, and Hans Ulrich Obrisi, "ConveHtons," in No Ghost Just a Shell, eds. Piere Huyghe and Philippe Knig, 2003), 17.

Pileno

(Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Wallher

.I81.

THE COLLABORAVE TUBN

than what was created prior to the transference of rights.2 This particular collaboration is now over.
No Ghost Just a shet is specific for having invorved concrete popurar culture and commercialism, for questioning tn" production an reproduction of identity. The project inscribes itserf in the rogic of the art market, but confuses it at the same time-it is arguabry ihe first example of an extensive coilaborative art project presentei as a group exhibition to be bought in its entirety by a museum.3 The project combines more idearistic notions of sharing with neoriberar rogics of networking and outsourcing. rt consciouiry situates itserf aithe intersection of the sensibirities of post-'1 96g sociar movements and hardcore post-Fordist mechanisms, praying out the probrematics and contestations of each.
Its structure ends up like Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari,s rhizomes, and it certainry shares some of the characteristics of Michaer Hardt and Antonio Negri,s understanding of the ,,common.,, No Ghost Just a shell's "promiscuous" creation story-its form and content, its degree of complexity and contradiction, the way in which it simultaneously touches upon the fetish character and the open sources of contemporary art-makes it something of a key project.a Moreover, No Ghost Just a sheil is probabry one of the most notabre collaborative adworks to have emerged over the last decade.

long and complex, and includes a number of different approaches

to organizing artistic work and aesthetics. lt extends from Rubens


and other baroque artists' hierarchical large-scale studios (which were lucrative businesses) to surrealist group experiments, from constructivist theater projects to Fluxus games and Andy Warhol's pseudo-industrial Factory.s lt has also been argued that collaboration was crucial in modernism's transition to postmodernism, particularly since the advent of conceptualism in the late 1960s. During the following decade, redefinitions of ar1 tended to go hand in hand with collaborative practices.6

According to the curator Angelika Nollert, the Nazarenes in Rome were the first group of artists known to work closely together, between around 1810-1830. She rightly points out that this type of artistic collaboration was first to develop a conscious strategy when the guilds disappeared and the notion of the romantic (individual) artist came to the fore.7 At the same time, it is useful to underline the obvious, as Brian Holmes does, in suggesting that even the lone artist in his or her studio is dependent upon contributions from others.s This is especially true for many mde artists who have managed to rely on more or less invisible suppod from surrounding women.
This text, however, is about collaboration-cases in which some form of conscious partnership takes place through interaction, parlicipation, group activity, or other kinds of intentional exchange through processes of "working together." lt will look at some attempted formulations of collaborative practices in contemporary arT from around the mid-1 990s, as well as recent developments in the structures and motivations behind collaboration. These collaborations can occur between people who are often, but not always, artists, as well as between artists and people from other fields altogether. The forrner suggests collaboration to have been consistently present in the aft of the last twenty years, having only entered the mainstream fairly recently. The latter shows a pronounced affinity with activism and other ways of gathering together around shared concerns, as well as a marked interest in alternative ways of producing knowledge.
5. See Ny'arion Piffer Damiani, "Get Together: Kunst als Teamwork" in Get Together: Kunst als Teamwork, exh

COLLABORATION NOW AND THEN No Ghost Just a Shell is only one of many art projects in which collaboration is central, and many other collaborative methods and projects are frourishing in contemp orary arrtoday. Notions of artist groupings, circres, associations, networks, partnerships, alliances, coalitions, contexts, "onit"il"tion., and teams are all buzzing in the air. However, cooperation and coilaboration in the context of art is by no means new. On the contrary its genealogy is
2 ltisalittleunclearexactlywhatthetwointiatorsconsidertobecontributonstothep@jectasawhole
ln addition to video sequences by Huyghe, Parreno, Liam Gillick, and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, the project includes the posters of paris-based designers M/M (which arso function as wa,paper designec especiary for the videos); videos by Franois curret, pierre Joseph, ,4ehdi Berhaj Kacem, Frkrit riravanija, [,4erik ohanian; paintings by Joe scanran, Henri Barande, and Richard phirj;s; objects by Angela Builoch and Imke wagner; music by Anna Lena vaney; a maguine by Anna Fleury with texts by the fiction writer Kathryn Davis, immunology researcher Jean-caude Ameisen, art historian Paurice pianzota, biologist and philosopher lsrael Rosenfield' art historian N'4olly Nesbit' art critc Jan veruoert, curator Hans ulrich obrist, philosopher ,4aurizio Latato, as well as a contract created by the lawyer Luc Saucier 3 One complete edition is now in the collection of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven 4 Jan Veruoert, "copyright, Ghosts and commodity Fetishism,,, in No Ghost Just a shelt, op cir ,1g4_g2

cat

(Vienna: Kusthalle Wen, 1999) Charles Green, The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism (\4inneapols:

Universty of Minnesota Press, 2001) 7, Angelka Nolert, "Art ls Life, and Life ls Art," n Collective Creatvty, exh. Fridericianum, 2005)

cat

(Kassel: Kunsthalle

Bran Holmes, "Artistc Autonomy and the Communicaton Society," Third Text,

no

8 (November 2004): 555

182

SELECTD MARIA LIND WRITING

Together with Ren Block, Nollert has argued that these newly proliferating collaborations of various sorls-between arlists and adists, artists and curators, artists and others_began around 1990.s They often appear as arternatives to the predominant focus on the individual so often found in the field of aft, as an instrument for challenging both arlistic identity and authorship. The various collaborations also tend to constitute a response to specific-at times local-situations, and they constanfly run the risk of being swallowed up and incorporated into the very systems against which they react. There are also examples of willful immersion, the critic and curator Gregory sholette claims that groups such as Gelatin and Dearraindrop satisfy the needs of entertainment culture by separating the image of collectivist art from its history of political radicalism. The individualistic art world can thus bond with its antithesis, drawing from its grooviness.lo. ln a variety of symposia, conferences, colloquia, exhibitions, and publications over the last few years, the form and structure of these collaborative and collective activities have been presented, examined, and called into question: their short-term and long-term work routines; how they spread attention across various subjects, methods, lifestyles, and political orientations; how they hope for some kind of emancipation; the obstacles they encounter; and, last but not least, what sort of satisfaction results from working in a group.l1

lf group work in art may be said to be booming at present, it is impoftant to analyze how these heterogeneous collaborations are structured and motivated. lt is also necessary to pay attention to collaborative work and collective actions in society in general, and to current theories of collaboration within philosophy and social theory. As there are already a number of formulations around practices since 1990 that could be described loosely as "collaborative practices," they should be taken into consideration as well. Ambiguities appear from the outset. Concepts such as collaboration, cooperation, collective action, relationality, interaction, and participation are used and often confused, although each has its own specific connotations. According to the collaboratively compiled Wikipedia, however, collaboration may be described as follows:

Collaboration refers abstractly to all processes wherein people work together-applying both to the work of individuals as well as larger collectives and societies. As an intrinsic aspect of human society, the term is used in many varying contexts such as science, ad, education, and business.l2 "Collaboration" is, as the above definition suggests, an openended concept, which, in principle, encompasses all the others. Collaboration becomes an umbrella term for the diverse working methods that require more than one participant. "Cooperation," on the other hand, emphasizes the notion of working together towards mutual benefit. Through its stress on solidarity, the word "collective" offers an echo of working forms within a socialist system. "Collective action" refers precisely to acting collectively, while "interaction" can mean that several people interact with each othe just as a single individual might interact with an apparatus by pressing a button, for example. "Padicipation" is more associated with the creation of a context in which padicipants can take pad in something that someone else has created, but where there are neveftheless opportunities to
have an impact. COME TOGETHER, BE TOGETHER, WORK TOGETHER Current ideas about collaboration in art are interlwined with other contemporary notions of what it means to "come togethe" "be together," and "work together." Contrary to a general sense of

Free Cooperation' a newspaper publshed in conjunction with the 2004 conference with the same title at the Department of Media Study, SUNy at Bufialo
1 1. Projects and publications such as the following have years: lhird Text's "Art and Collaboration" issue from No ,,Diffusion: Wright, and based on a 2OO3 conference, Cot lvlodern, London; "Dispositive Workshop," a series of six

10 Gregory Sholette, "lntroducing lnsouciant Art Collectives, the Latest product of Enterprise Culture,',

Ren Block and Angetika Noilert, ,,Collective Creativity,,' in Cotective Creativity,

op

ct

2403-2004: Colloquium on collaborative Practices at the Kunstverein N4nchen in July 2004, dcumented n Gesammelte Drucksachen (collected newsletters), published by Revolver Archiv fr aktuelle Kunst, Frankfurt prt 2,,' at Shedhaile in Zrich Aprit 2005; "Collaborative Practices ,,Colective 2OOS: and Creativity,,, at the 'n Kunsthaile Fridericianum in Kasser, in N,'ray 2005. The symposium "Taking the rvratter into common Hands,,, which is the starting point for ths publication, took place at laspis in Stockhotm n September and october 2005. The swedish curturar journar Grnta has made a speciaf issue on "coilective Art," 2006. Among newmedia events dealing with this issue, the conference "Free Cooperation" at the Department of Meda Study, STJNY at Buffalo' in 2004 should be mentoned. Recent publications include circles: lndividuelle Sozialisation und Netzwerkarbeit in der zeitgenssischen Kunst, ed christoph Keller (FranKurt: Revolver Archiv fr aktueile Kunst,2002) "Circles"wasaseriesofexhibitionsinfveparts,withlecturesheldatZKMinKarlsruhein2000

and2001 Eachpartfocusedonacircleoranetwork,withmostassociatedwithaparticulartownduringthe
previous decade. "Get Together- Kunst als Team'rork" was an exhibition at the Kunsthalle wien in 1 ggg. A catalogue with the same ti|e was published durng the exhibition

12 See en wikipeda orglwiki/Collaboration

184

SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING

185

THE COLLABORATIVETUFN

change in the notion of community-that it has become less socially responsible, caring, bonding, and dissolved to a certain degree-Jean-Luc Nancy claims in The lnoperative Community that the community is extremely vital, but in ways other than might be expected.l3 For instance, community is not the basis for the formation of society or the origin of nations; rathe it is what we find ,,in the wake of society." Community cannot be created: it is not a product of religious harmony or utilitarian trumpeting, but should be understood as a resistance to immanent power. ln addition, according to Nancy, community should, like existence itself, be defined as a non_ absolute-that is, relational. He also points out that community can be reduced neither to "society," nor to diverse mystical associations, which can, for example, lead to fascism. Nationalism is one such reduction, and, as such, it may also be seen as an expression of "imagined communities," to borrow Benedict Anderson,s term. ln contrast to Nancy's philosophical and somewhat idealistic theory, Anderson's book lmagined communities takes an empirical approach, tracing the processes leading up to American and European imperialisms, as well as the form they have taken in anti-imperialist movements throughout Asia and Africa, with feelings of belonging or affiliation and methods of repression having been orchestrated in local languages through the daily press.la
Since the advent of modernism, dreams of collectivism have undoubtedly been a driving force, but according to Gregory Sholette and aft historian Blake Stimson, two major new forms of collectivism are at play in the world today: one based on an lslamist yearning for an anti-capitalist, absolute, idealized form of collectivity, and the other struggling to substitute the programmer for the ideologue, who disappeared with the communitarian ideals of Christianity, lslam, nationalism, and communism. The latter takes the form of a sort of minimally regulated DIY form of e-collectivism, attracting ,,techno_

re-imagine and reshape collective action and take charge of social being in the present. ln this, their roots in radical political thought and its reverence for solidarity come to the fore. Hardt and Negri's concept of the "multitude" has been perhaps the best formulation of how group dynamics have emerged on a macro level. For Hardt and Negri, the "multitude" replaces concepts such as "the people" and the less ethnic "population." ln contrast to "the people," a multitude remains plural and multiple. lt is a set of singularities in which each social subject maintains its difference. lt is compared with the individual as a pad of "the people," when the indlvidual must deny his or her difference in order to form "a people." Unlike the masses or the mob, a multitude is not fragmented and disconnected, but consists of active social subjects who can act together. lndeed, the multitude is a concept that can encompass all important group parameters-class, gende ethnicity, and sexual preference-but Hardt and Negri choose to underline class. This elaboration of the enlightenment ideal of emancipation has a curious vitalist touch to it, but it is nevertheless there to, in their understanding, counteract the forces of "empire," the network power that forms a new sovereignty based on the interactions between dominant nation-states, supranational institutions, and major corporations. lnterestingly enough, they distinguish between "common" on the one hand, and "community" and "public" on the other. Like the multitude, "common" can include singularities; the "common" is based on communication between singularities: it comes from the collaborative social processes that underlie all production. ln this context, it is worth elevating their observation that, together with communication, collaboration has become a central method in the new paradigm of immaterial production over the last decades.l6 Perhaps the problem is, rather, that there is too much forced commonality and prescribed collaboration today in the sense of social unanimity and political consensus-at least in North-West Europe. The political philosopher Chantal Mouffe suggests that, rather than consensus, it is the intrinsic conflict in liberal democracy that should be cultivated instead.lT More difference and disagreement, in other words, can avoid the risk of "consensus of the centre," which
16
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (New York: The
!4ouffe, The

anarchist hacktivism to hippie-capitalist, pseudo-countercultural imperialism."ls This particular approach argues for the need to historicize collectivism-and includes the autonomous zones formed in Seattle and Genoa, as well as the provisional community work of aftist groups like wochenklausur or Temporary services-in order to
'13 Jean-Luc Nancy' The lnoperative Community, (London and [.4inneapolis: Universty of Minnesota press, 1991)

14 Benedict Anderson' lmagined Communties: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Natjonalsm (London and New York: Verso, 1 983 and I 991)

lia_11!"4,'."r""ndcregoryShotette,,,periodisingCoilectivism,"nThirdText.no

18(november2oo4):

Penguin Press,2004)

17 Chanlal

Democratic Paradox (London and New York: Verso. 2000)

186

SELECTED MARIA LIND WFITING

gives scope to, for instance, right-wing extremists as the only real alternative in the political arena. Mouffe's "agonistic pluralism,,can be of use here for not being based on final resolutions, but on an ongoing exchange marked by conflict. "Agonistic" relationships, similar to antagonistic relationships, involve struggles with an adversary rather than with an enemy. An adversary is someone with whom you share common ground while disagreeing on meanings and implementations of basic principles-disagreements that simply cannot be resolved through the deliberation and rational discussion celebrated by',thirdway" politicians and defenders of the "post-political,, alike.

being deemed shallow outside of their own field.le All this follows from the logic that very few people, if any, can fully cover several fields at once, and that the results of mixing disciplines therefore become far too thin. With the exception of the bureaucratic and economically motivated Wagnerian experiment, the "coming together" of different subject and genre areas-as subjects and genres-is unusual today. It is as unusual as arranged marriages, in which two people are forced to marry and as rare as successful blind dates.2o We do, however, often find temporary collaborations within self-determined activities, but these do not entail the literal merging of categories. Strategies for collaboration in contemporary art seem to have a particular relationship to the last decade's political and social activities. You can even identify a desire for activism within the field of aft today. Ever since Reclaim the Streets cropped up in London at the beginning of the 1990s, claiming common ownership of public space, blocking traffic with festival-like happenings, both individual and collective actions in urban space have increased. Actions aganst corporate ownership and various political questions concerning justice are now a part of larger meetings of the lMF, World Economic Forum, and G8. The "anti-globalization movement," "movement of movements," or "global justice movement," as it is also called, and its criticism of the global political impact of international corporations on both the environment and employment rights, has given large-scale cooperative activism a new public visage, mainly through the use of the media. Who can forget the pictures from Seattle in 1999? Or the ones from the many cities in the world where mass demonstrations took place against an impending US invasion of lraq in February 2OO3? With the help of new technology, thousands of people can now quickly gather together to express their viewpoints. And one cannot underestimate the extent to which digital technology has contributed to the boom in cooperation, where "tactical media" blends of new technology, aft, and activism have given political protest a new face.

Although post-political approaches and some attitudes of the socalled "new media critique" community might look similar at first glance, with both underlining collaboration, their approaches are in fact very different. The longing for a different society based on sharing and cooperation, which has been forcefully expressed by the new media critique community since the mid-19g0s, carries on some of the pathos of the post-1968 "new social movements,,' when new means of communication began to be available, and even inexpensive. lt has been said that movements around open source and open content have thereby created new production paradigms that counteract the type of mandatory collaboration and imposed self-organization that, for example, post-Fordist working conditions often entail.18 These movements have produced a lively discourse on, and concrete practice of, various collaborative methods such as "open space technology," which allows for a mild protocol for
self-organization. It may also be claimed that another contemporary way of ,,coming together" and "working together," both in the academic and the aftistic sphere, can be found in interdisciplinarity. As old borders are transgressed and different disciplines meet in the hopes of feftilizing each other, the ivory tower appears to become somewhat less remote, even disappearing altogether when cultural studies enable popular culture to gnaw at literature, and when contemporary visual art is subjected to the same close scrutiny as theoretical studies of historical paintings. However, as soon as this crossdisciplinary development began to be described as ,,post-disciplinary evil," traditionalists, but also those who took on the challenges of postmodernism, began to have grave doubts, perhaps for fear of

Another cardinal point to consider in relation to questions around collaboration concerns the organization of work in presentday society. lmmaterial labo such as various kinds of services,
19 See Games Fights Collaborations; Das Spiel von Grenze und berschreitung, eds Beatrice von Bsmarck.
Diethelm Stoller, and Ulf Wuggenig (Lneburg and Stuttgart: Kunstraum der Universit't Lneburg and Cantz Velag, 1996); and The Anxiety of lnterdsciplinarity, eds Alex Coles and Alexia Defert (London: BACKless Books in association with Black Dog Publishing. 1 997) 20 The Wagner experment refers to the en'thusiasm that civil seryants and politicians often have for interdisciplinary projects planned top down so that they mpose themselves on art and the o'ther disciplines

See Free Cooperation,

op cit

i88

SELECTED .4ARA LIND WRITING

information, and care, as well as other activities that create relations and social situations, are crucial to the paradigm of post-Fordist work. lt may even be claimed that the production of communication, social relations, and cooperation are constitutive of immaterial labor. Furthermore, creativity and flexibility are essential for maximizing profit under these conditions, so the worker/producer must be prepared to work on shor.t-term contracts. Those who work should also be innovative and think in unconventional ways, and so bohemians in general, and artists in particula become important role models. Howeve in contrast to the ideal of the romantic artist, you must be able to alternate between being self-motivated and working independently, and being part of a group and working in a team. This requires even greater flexibility-and lack of securitythan is typically associated with working a steady job.21 Here, the idealistic aspect of collaboration, represented by activism, clashes with the crass demands to raise profitability and efficiency voiced by private businesses and the state. While the former stands for self-organization and self-empowerment, the latter is more direcily instrumental. Many of these aspects may indeed be recognized in some of the leading examples and understandings of collaborative aft practices over the last fifteen years.22
RELATIONAL AESTHETICS, NEW GENRE PUBLIC ART, CONNECTIVE AESTHETICS. KONTEXTKUNST. AND DIALOGICAL ART Art and its working methods are certainly not necessarily the direct result of these social, political, economic, and philosophical phenomena. Anthropologically speaking, they are pad of the culture in which these processes operate. Art participates in both the production and reproduction of these phenomena; art performs, depicts, and checks these processes. The same thing can be said to apply with regard to one of the recent decade's most influentialand disputed, not least by the quoted aftists-constructions in contemporary art: the so-called "relational aesthetics." Although not discussing collaboration per se, the curator and critic Nicolas
21 22

Bourriaud's 1998 book, Esthtique Relationnelle, defines certain contemporary adworks as "an attempt to create relationships between people over and above institutionalized relational forms," almost as a foundation for collaboration. Relational aesthetics was widely debated in the mid-1990s in Scandinavia, France, and Holland, and more recently during a delayed, yet significant reception in Great Britain and the United States. A journey into recent Western art history would take us immediately to the work of artists such as Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Jorge Pardo, Carsten Hlle Philippe Parreno, Liam Gillick, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Angela Bulloch, and Maurizio Cattelan-the core group of artists whose work Bourriaud refers to. ln his view, this heterogeneous group of artists proposes social methods of exchange and alternate communication processes in order to gather individuals and groups together in ways other than those offered by the ideology of mass communication. They seek to entice the observer or viewer into the aesthetic experience offered by the artwork. Bourriaud claims that these artists do not wish to reproduce or depict the world as we know it, but instead create new situationsmicro utopias-using human relations as their raw material.23
Referring to Duchamp's 1954 lecture "The Creative Process," Bourriaud acknowledges that interactivity is scarcely a novel idea, but nevedheless underlines the importance of these ar.tists' production of inter-personal experiences aimed against the ideology of mass communication. lt is an art that "is not trying to represent utopias, but build concrete spaces," and he continues by stating that present-day art strives to produce situations of exchange, of relational spacetime. lt is the counter-merchandise. Unlike merchandise, it does not conceal the work process, the use value, or the social relations that enable its production. Yet it does not reproduce the world that it has been taught to expect-it tries to invent new worlds, taking human relations as its material.2a

23 Nlcolas Bourriaud's essayistc and yet relevant discussion on relationa aes'thetics has been widely disputed, even aggressively so The Los Angeles-based art historian and writer George Baker's "open letter"
See Luc Bo tanski and Eve Chiape lo, The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans Gregory Elliott (London and New Such topics were brought up in a seminar entitled "New Relation-alilies," curated in collaboratjon with critic

York: Verso, 2005)

to Nicolas Bourraud sounds like a vendetta: "Despite its myopia in the face of the full range of contemporary art practices oulside of France, despite its inabillty to develop and carry a theoreiical argument or model,
the misconceptions and ignorance displayed n ths text have only been matched by its popu ariy within contemporary curatorial circles A full critique of its terms however will have to await another moment, anolher more specific 'open letter"' Quoted from "Relations and Counter-Relations; An Open Letter to Nicolas Bourraud," in Contextualize, exh cat (Kunstverein Hamburg,2002) 24 Ncolas Bourriaud "An lnroduction to Relational Aesthetics." in Traffic, exh cal (Bordeaux: CAPC N,4use d'a contemporain, 1 996), no pagination

Ninalvlntnann,whichtookplaceatlaspisinStockholmonFebruary25

2006.Theseminardealtwithart

focusing on social relations and employed a critical and theoretical approach to decoding and understanding ihe types of relations wth viewers produced by works of art What are the relations created between art, .stitutjons, and the public? What linguistic means of expression are obtainable when trying to fnd adequate
terms for all of these forms of relations?

-90

SELECTED ,4ARIA LIND WRITING

191

THECOLLABORATIVETURN

Despite the fact that the notion of relational aesthetics was originally coined to discuss works by specific artists, it has become a catchphrase used carelessly to describe any artwork with an interactive and/or socially related dimension. ln recent years, relational tendencies, which often depart from the model Bourriaud formulated, have included interventionist and offsite projects, discursive and pedagogical models, neo-activist strategies, and increasingly functionalist approaches (such as arVarchitecture collaborative groups). Many of these are on the margins outside of the mainstream art world, as were their predecessors from the 1g80s and 90s.

Undoubtedly, much of the radically heterogeneous art that Bourriaud refers to involves interaction and participation, sometimes even direct collaboration between the artist and individuals or groups. Many of the artists whose work he deals with have also worked with each other, but collaboration remains one facet among many. However, closer examination reveals that the aftists to whom Bourriaud refers have engaged in more or less every type of interaction and exchange imaginable, making the concept of relational aesthetics even more open-ended than ,'collaboration', alone. A significant amount of the criticism that has been leveled against Bourriaud concerns to what degree the concept of relational aesthetics implies "good" collaboration, "positive,, interaction, and participation -what is the quality of the exchange being stimulated? For the Canadian art historian Stephen Wright, the art associated with relational aesthetics is intellectually and aesthetically meager, foisting services on people who never asked for them and drawing them into "frivolous interaction." The participants' efforts, however small, are not reimbursed, and society's class-based power relations are reproduced.2s Everything connected to relational aesthetics is therefore dismissed as capricious and exploitative. London-based critic Claire Bishop's criticism of relational aesthetics in October magazine stemmed from a more formalist art historical position. She focused on a few works by Gillick and Tiravanija, contending that they glossed over the tensions and conflicts that exist in all relations between people by orchestrating a kind of conviviality. ln her understanding, they subscribe to what is basically a quasi-democracy and buy into compromise and consensus.26

ln contrast, Bishop cites Santiago Sierra and Thomas Hirschhorn, claiming that when they collaborate with people from different economic backgrounds, they retain the inherent tensions and conflicts between observer, padicipant, and context-challenging the putative image of the art world as a self-righteous place where social and political issues from other segments of society are embraced. Her greatest stumbling block, howeve[ comes in considering how this art should be judged; for her, it must not on any condition be judged if the relations produced by the work can be considered exploitative or disrespectful. And actually, this position is an inversion of Wright's criticism. Whereas he believes that the works in question are problematic, even bad, for being exploitative, the problem for Bishop lies in their containing too little conflict. The aft based on relations that retain their tensions and difficulties is better than the art that is assumed to seek agreement and harmony, which she ascribes to the work of Tiravanija and Gillick. Although their art has rarely, if ever, referred to these third-way abstractions.
Here, the commonality between Bourriaud, Wright, and Bishop is striking: they are all equally-perilously-impressionistic in their descriptions of aftwork and equally sweeping in how they mingle their understanding of aftworks and artists' practices as a whole. ln this context, it is also crucial to distinguish between an interpretation of a work of art and the work itself, a matter often overlooked by all three. This also reminds one of the importance of experiencing the project one discusses, or of at least being able to rely on detailed and trustworthy eyewitness accounts. This sort of interventionist, cooperative work has proven to be even more difficult to describe-let alone analyze-than other types of art.

ln this context, the art historian and critic Christian Kravagna's

distinction-with an interest in human interaction-between four different methods seen in contemporary ad may be useful:
"working with others," interactive activities, collective action, and parlicipatory practice. According to Kravagna, "working with others" is favored by "sozio-chics," like Christine and lrene Hohenbchler, Jens Haaning, and Tiravanija, who devote themselves to building social and communicative relations tith the public. Here the artists cynically instrumentalize the public. However, for those with a deeper knowledge of these bodies of work, it is clear that potentially political content is often present, but in ambiguous and opaque, albeit precise,

::ai26

Wright, "The Delcale Essence of Artistic Coilaborarion,', n Third Text,

no

1g (November 2004):

Claire Bishop, "Antagonism and Retational Aesthetics,,,Octobec

no

110 (fall 2OO4):51_79

192

SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING

193

THE COLLABORATIVETUFN

ways.27 The interactivity of the work permits one or more reactions that can influence its appearance without deeply affecting its structure. The idea behind collective action is, rather, that a group of people formulate an idea that they can then carry out together. while Kravagna does not present concrete examples, one can imagine "push-button art" to be included in interactive aft and that Guerilla Girls' actions could exemplify "collective action." ,,parlicipatory practice" presumes a distinction between producer and receive but the focus is placed on the latte on whom a significant part of the work's development relies. Adrian piper,s Funk Lessons, in which the artist arranged and made videos of putatively ethnic dance lessons, and Clegg & Guttmann's Open Library in Graz and Hamburg, where a common public library was created in a residential neighborhood, are described in detail and cited as two examples of participatory practice.2E Funk Lessons was not the point of departure for an already existing community; rathe the work itself produced a community that had not previously existed.

social contexts such as residential neighborhoods or schools. ln this way, a kind of reverse exclusivity emerges: those who are attracted to the project have more access to this art than the usual aft public. The examples in her book function as case studies, and the artists include Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Judy Chicago, Group Material, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Fred Wilson.
New genre public art emerged at the same time as relational aesthetics, as did the kindred connective aesthetics developed by Gablik. Formerly an artist, Gablik is an active critic, theorist, and teacher. According to her, connective aesthetics locates creativity in a kind of dialogical structure that is frequently the result of collaboration between a number of individuals rather than an autonomous author. Connective aesthetics is the antithesis of modernism and its "nonrelational, noninteractive, and nonpadicipatory orientation, " also in its embrace of traditional values such as compassion and care, seeing and responding to needs.3o Connective aesthetics is fudhermore listener-centered rather than vision-oriented, and is therefore claimed to be pad of "a new consciousness of how the self is being defined and experienced." Psychotherapy and ecological discussions are sources of inspiration, and notions such as "healing" crop up often in her writing. Gablik states that connective aesthetics "makes art into a model for connectedness and healing by opening up being to its full dimensionality-not just the disembodied eye." Her examples include Jonathan Borofsky and Gary Glassman's 1986 video documentary, Prisoners; Suzanne Lacy's The Crystal Quilt, from 1987; Mother's Day in Minneapolis, which features 430 older women discussing their hopes and fears of aging, their accomplishments and disappointments; and Mierle Laderman Ukele's 1978 Touch Sanitation, in which the artist shook hands with 8,500 sanitation workers over a period of eleven months, saying "thank you for keeping NYC alive" to each and every one of them.

Among the more overlooked conceptualizations of collaborative practices from recent decades are Suzy Gablik,s ,,connective aesthetics," Suzanne Lacy's *new genre public art,,, and Grant Kester's "dialogical art." Outside the German-speaking context, peter Weibel's so-called "Kontextkunst" has remained unexplored. Lacy, a founding member of the Feminist Studio Workshop (FSW) at the Woman's Building in Los Angeles, coined the term ,,new genre public art" to discuss ar1 that seeks to engage more directly with audiences. ln a 1995 anthology entifled Mapping the Terrain, Lacy defines it in this way: "New genre public ar1 calls for an integrative critical language through which values, ethics, and social responsibility can be discussed in terms of arI."2e lt is a working model based on relations between people and on social creativity rather than selfexpression, and it is characlerized by cooperation. lt is community_ based, often relating to marginalized groups; it is socially engaged, interactive, and aimed at anothe less anonymous public than that of art institutions. lt is about creative participation in a process. Activities are primarily pursued far from the established art institutions, in other
27 See Maria Lnd, "The Process of Living in the World of Objects: Notes on the Work of Rirkrit Tiravanija,,, RlrkritTiravanij:ARetrospectiveflomorrowisAnotherFineDay),ecj FrancescaGrassiandFirkritTravanija
(Zrich: JRP Ringier, 2007),
1

in

19-128

term to dscuss a number of very different projects Pper to Las ,4ujeres Muraljstas

Prais I Die Kunst des ffenilichen, eds [,4arus Babras and Achim Knneke (Amsterdam and Dresden: Verlag der Kunst, j 999) 29 suzanne Lacy, Ny'apping rhe Terrain: New Genre pubric Art (seatfle: Bay press, f ggs), 43 Lacy uses the
n

28

See Chrrstian Kravagna, ,4ooelle partizipatorischer

Connective aesthetics and new genre public art have been largely disregarded, and many feel somewhat suspicious of the didactic, salutary intentions, not to mention the slightly "new agey" character claimed by the authors. Yet, they have surely opened up new ways of thinking about the role and nature of ad with regard to its audiences, with collaboration at the core. Just as ad that seeks to go beyond the contemplative, intentional image and object-based art-as relational aesthetics does-must be seen in the light of the spectacularization,
30 Suzi Gablik, "Connective Aesthetics: Art After lndividualism," ibid , 80

the US from the 1 97Os to the 1 990s, rangng from Adrian

194

SELECTED ,4ARIA LIND WRITING

195-

THE COLLABORATIVETURN

commodification, and sales boom of the 19g0s, so should new genre public art and connective aesthetics also be considered as attempting a similar break. Howeve Kravagna contends that the latter two suffer from political deficits, which they then compensate for with pastoral means, which is to say that they seek ',the good.,' ln his view, this goes hand in hand with political impotence and the general sense of being unable to really affect political processes, with voluntary work and other social interests replacing political influence. But beyond this, some of Bourriaud's descriptions of relational aesthetics are better suited to the art that Lacy and Gablik examine than the ar.t he himself addresses. And a good amount of Bishop's criticisms of Tiravanija and Gillick can be found in formulations of new genre public art and connective aesthetics, but in positive terms.
A third concept of relevance here, which came about around the same time, is that of Kontextkunst (context art). Kontextkunst reached a wider public in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, assembled by the artist and curator peter Weibel as parl of the '1 993 Graz steirischer Herbst.3r The artists involved are thought to investigate and question contexts, often through various forms of collaboration, and are connected along an axis from New york to Cologne, and include Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser, Clegg & Guttmann, Rene Green, Genvald Rockenschaub, Thomas Locher, and christian Philipp Mller. Their critical investigations into how culture is actually produced often reminds one of the institutional analytical strategies of the 1960s, and their art tends to be site-specific. Like the artists associated with relational aesthetics, the approaches of contextual artists are interdisciplinary, and include such areas as architecture, music, and mass media. Howeve in contrast to the former, contextual artists are more historically oriented and their methods are more academic. Aesthetically, they tend to keep a low profile, with straightforward delivery of information as a prominent strategy. Dialogical ad as discussed by art historian Grant Kester in the 2004 book Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art is a more recent treatment of work mainly from the i g90s, focusing again on the intersection of art and cultural activism, based on collaborating with diverse audiences and communities. creative
31 seePeterweibel,Kontextkunst-KunstdergoerJahre(corogne:DuMontverrag,1994)
r\4anyofthe
relevant discussions about the work of these artists had, previous to the exhibition and the cataogue, been publshed in the journal Texte zur Kunst, and a number of those nvolved felt that webel and some of the other curators had hijacked their project See Stefan Germer "Unter Geiern- Kontext-Kunst im Kontext,,, in Texte zur Kunst. no 1 I (November 1 995): 83-95

dialogue and empathetic insight are at the core of the works he refers to, as are models for successful communication. This art primarily exists outside the international network of galleries and museums, curators and collectors. Among his examples are Wochenklausur's 1994 project in Zrich, Shelter for Aid Drug-Addicted Women, which involved floating dialogues with various women, resulting in a boarding house, and Suzanne Lacy's 1994 The Roof is On Fire, where the artist worked with 22O teenagers in Oakland to question racial stereotypes in a media event to which more than 1,000 local residents were invited. Like Kravagna and Lacy, Kester also discusses the work of Stephen Willats and Adrian Piper. This thorough study traces art's function as communication, from Clive Bell and Roger Fry to Clement Greenberg and Jean-Franois Lyotard, and makes the crucial point that they all associate semantic accessibility-for example, in advertisi n g - with the destructive eff ects of capital ist commod if icati on. Kester understands dialogical art as an "open space" within contemporary culture, where certain questions can be asked and where critical analyses can be articulated. Furthermore, dialogical art is based on a critical sense of time that considers its own cumulative effects, acknowledging what happens today as having an effect on
the future.

Most of these interpretations of collaboration-based artistic practices have been around for a few years, as have the adworks they refer to. Relational aesthetics, new genre public art, connective aesthetics, and dialogical ar1 focus on the relation between the work and the public and on forms of participation. lt seems, however, that "the social," or "sociality," remains a tricky issue that all of these concepts maneuver around, although they use very different methods to reach their public.32 Kontextkunst also takes a view to participation, but rather than using the social as its backbone, it privileges the political. Of course, these methods of working continue to exist, but newly, or somewhat newly developed and updated ways of working under a notion of "collectivity" have appeared, with groups of people sharing as wel I as questioning together- authorship.

RECENT MODELS OF COLLABORATION What do the more recent collaborations look like-those that were formed or became visible after the mid-1990s? Undoubtedly, there

32

For a discussion on art as socal space, see Nina l\y'ntmann, Kunst als sozialer Baum (Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig, 2002)

196

SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING

197

THE COLLABOFATIVETURN

are many forms of artistic coilaboration: stabre murtipre authorship duos, such as Bik Van der pol, Marysia Lewandowska and Nell cummings, Ergarand-vargarand lLeit rtggren and carl Michael von Hausswolff), Clegg & Guttmann; anO taig-er groups who have worked together for a long time, such as Radekbommunty in Moscow, IRW,N in Ljubrjana, Group Materiar in New york, criticarArt Ensembre in the US, and Women Down the pub in Copenhagen. There are single-issue groups such as park Fiction that dissorve after achieving a specific goar, which for park Fiction was to prevent a vacant rot in a deprived area of Hamburg from being developed. OOa eroiesi, consisting of three young female artists and sociologists, *u" o""0 in the rstanbur quarter of Garata for a number of years. They worked together there with the rocar inhabitants investigating and redefining the use of various types of space. Temporary services is a coilective based in Chicago and focuses on temporary and ephemeral projects in public space. others have chosen to organize themselves around the model of a music group, as Generar rda and Freie Krasse do. stilr others, such as Bernadette corporation, atude to the business world and branding methods, or to bureaucratic organs, such as Gala Committee. Schleuser.net takes the form of a lobbying organization for business enterprises speciarizing in undocumented cross-border human traffic. some of their activitls resembre the art activism of Raqs Media cotectir,,e and Murtipricity. The ratter two consist of people coming from various professional backgrounds_artists, architects, and sociorogists-who together nourish a desire to change society with their work. A backdrop t most of this is the awareness that coilaboration entairs contact, confrontation, deriberation, and negotiation to a degree surpassing that of individual work, and that this produces subjectivity differenfly. Since 2000, through UKK (Unge Kunstnere og Kunstformidle fyoung ad workersl)33 and rKK (rnstitutet 5r konstnrer och konstfrmedrare [lnstitute for alists and art workers]),3a Denmark and Sweden

Daniela Johnson, whose name stands for a group of curators and artists. Reena Spaulings is both the name of a gallery in New York run by a collective of aftists, and the title of a collectively written novel, whose main character bears the same name. ln many cases, the individual members of the groupings pursue their own careers, while others immerse themselves completely in group work. All, however, are based on collaboration between specific founders. Some have systematically collaborated with others, a method they share with individual artists such as Johanna Billing, Annika Eriksson, Jeremy Delle Apolonija Su!ter!ic, Santiago Sierra, and Thomas Hirschhorn, who individually involve groups of people in their projects. However, these artists work with groups in very different ways.

club. Fictionarizing is a wet-tested method for questioning authorship, ano one of the more recent additions to the art scene
is the curator
33 See www ukk dk

seen an increase in poriticized pubric discussions on curturar production, and this has created new speciar interest organizations for arlists and art mediators. rn this coniext, the currentry inactive societt Hirdesheim can seem aroof because of their devotion to intensively fictionalizing themselves as an archaic upper_class

have

Billing, Eriksson, Deller, and Hirschhorn, for example, have approached groups of people who already have something in common, and the artists then propose a new type of activity, which, to an extent, produces a new identity that does not always go tidily with their primary identification. ln their projects, these artists appealto latent qualities and conflicts, which are tested and then acted out. ln these cases, it is important to emphasize the differences in the types of relations established between the artist and those involved: Are the latter given a role or task by the former or do they develop it together? ls the "commission" carried out with or without remuneration? ls it a win-win situation or can one person be said to exploit another? The question becomes one of whether you even speak at all about collaboration when the responsibility lies very clearly with one pafty, as it does in many projects by Billing, Eriksson, Deller, and Suter!i!. The people involved are not responsible for improving or following up on the project. They can even leave without a guilty conscience. Neither are they normally credited as collaborators. As collaborations, these projects can perhaps be regarded as "weak," or not "fullfledged," for involving varied groups of people. The projects are parlicipatory, but they generally lack the "healing" impetus of new genre public art, connective aesthetics, and dialogical art.
While discussing contemporary collaborative practices, one should not overlook loose groups of aftists who, for a time, live and work side by side and share attitudes and approaches. Christine Borland, Douglas Gordon, Nathan Coley, Jacqueline Donachie, Claire Barclay, Simon Starling, and Ross Sinclair had a situation similar to this in

34

See www kk nu

198

SELECIED I\IARIA LIND WRITING

Glasgow in the 1990s.35 During the same period GianniMotti, Sydney Stucki, Sylvie Fleury John Armleder, and others did the same in Geneva.36 These loose groupings or networks are obviously close to the classic "circle of friends," but their role as breeding grounds for temporary collaborations should be acknowledged.
It is warranted here to distinguish between ,'single,, and ,,double,, collaboration. ln the forme the author remains alone and others contribute towards realizing an idea that is already more or less formulated. ln the latter, collaboration takes place both in the formulation of the idea on the parl of the author, but also in the realization of the work. The idea is developed together with others, who are awarded the same status as the author, and who also all participate in the execution of the project. ,,Double,, collaboration is synonymous with Kravagna's "collective action.,,,,Triple,' collaboration would then refer to the cases in which the work takes "collaboration,, as its subject and theme; for instance, in Neil Cummings,s and Marysia Lewandowska's The Enthusiasts, in which they focused on postwar Polish film clubs organized in factories. The double collaborations seem to be the most typical form of present-day collaboration, emphasizing artists' working conditions.

Another clear division in terms of the varied forms of collaborative work is that which exists between formal and informal groupings of authors, between those with a fixed number of members and a common name, and those without any general plan who gather like a flock of birds, cropping up in different formations for different occasions. This is the model used for No Ghost Just a shell. Here lies the distinction between more improvised and thoroughly structured work. The former composes a kind of collective authorship and a search for even the smallest common denominato whereas the latter is about shared points of departure, shared interests and values, rather than any kind of official joint ownership-a temporary collective of originators/creators. The people involved want to stimulate the greatest possible distinctiveness, but out of something shared, such as their collective sensibilities and attitudes. Historical forerunners of this include the artists associated with Fluxus and their many and varied collaborations, as well as with conceptual art.

Many of today's collaborations in art contexts operate horizontally and consist of actors from different fields; very often, these collaborations lie on the border between activist, arlistic, and curatorial activities, and they tend to be self-organized. Ordinarily, the collaborators have joined together in order to react to a specific local situation, such as KMKK in Budapest, DAE in San Sebastian, B+B in London, and WHW inZagreb.3T Some groups have become incorporated within institutional contexts-albeit temporarily-as some of the groups mentioned above have been (in Museum Ludwig, Manifesta 5, and lCA, respectively), while others have even taken over entire institutions, as was the case with Konst2 (Art2), who took over Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm in the spring of 2004.38 The various constituent parls of No Ghost Just a Shell have been shown in a number of different institutional contexts-the project itself could hardly be considered without institutional interference. As a single complete project, it has been shown at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the lnstitute of Visual Culture in Cambridge, and at the Kunsthalle Zrich.3e According to Hans Ulrich Obrist, it may also be claimed that the project has even contributed to changes in the prevailing exhibition paradigm.a0 lt recalls the impodant distinction between one single, solitary, collaborative project and ongoing col laborations between authors and/ or others. The basic models of contemporary collaborative forms in ad can be easily extended, as there are innumerable variations on the theme, but this should suffice to show their prevalence and indicate their heterogeneity. Historically, the motivation to engage in collaborative practices cerlainly varies: people have joined together to find new ways of living closer to nature, as with Monte Verita and in Worpswede during the turn of the last century; or to use various types of action to wield political influence, like the group Tucuman Arde in Rosario and the Art Workers' Coalition in New York at the end of the 1960s. Early on, a crucial difference emerged between wanting
37
lMaria Lind, Katharna Schlieben, and Judith Schwartzbart, eds , Colloquum on Collaborative Practice: Dispositive Workshop Part 4 (Munich; Kunstverein N,4unich, 2004). Also published in Collected Newsletters

(FrankTurt:RevolverArchivefraktuelleKunst,200S) in the same publication

SeealsotextsbyK,4KK,DAE,andB+B

38

Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, "Curatorial and lnstitutional Structures," in Colloquium on Collaboratve Practice;

op cit. 39 DuringmytimeasDrectoroftheKunstvereinN,4nchen,weshowedthefrstfourvideosequencesby
Dispositive Workshop Part 4,

35 36

See Katrrna Brown, "Trust," and Ross Sinclair, "What's in a Decade," in Circles: lndividuelle Sozlalisation und Netzwerkarbeit in der Zeitgenssischen Kunst, op cit See Lionel Bovier. "The Circle and Geneva." ibid

Phlippe Parreno, Perre Huyghe, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, and Liam Gillick successively for a month at a tme in the same room, as a part of the exhibiton "Exchange & Transform (Arbeitstitel)" in sprng and summer

2002 See page 349

in

this book.

40

Hans Ulrich Obrist, "How AnnLee Changed lts Spots." in No Ghost Just a Shell,

op

cit

2OO SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING

to live and work together commune_style and wishing only to work together. ln contemporary art, beyond aftist_couples, the distinction between living and working together and only working together is clearly exemprified by how the copenhagen-based gioup" N55 and superflex have structured their forms of coilaboration, with the former at one point living and working together and the ratter being content with collaborative work.
The motivation behind today's coilaborations varies radicaily, armost in proportion to the number of different modes of working. A common explanation for this has been that generosity and sharing provide an alternative to contemporary individuarism and the traditind rore of the romantic artist as a solitary genius. ln an increasingly

instrumentalized arl world, both commercially and publicly, self_ determination and a desire to be a more powerfur force in-society have also been mentioned as important motivations. And there i always the fun of working with others and the practicar advantages of dividing tasks according to speciarties and preferences.or rn ceain cases, the need for infrastructure has brought about coilaboration around technicar equipment and venues. As Beatrice von Bismarck has pointed out, formarized groups of artists can often be associated with self-promotion and a desire to achieve success in the ar.t worrd. similarly, teamwork, with its orientation towards a rational division of labor and maximizing profit, is rinked to economic contexts. collective activities, on the other hand, are connected to a desire to withdraw from the exploitation of the art market, to turn away from the production of objects and from marketing. wanting to-be a stronger force in society is a kindred motivation, as is a dsire to create intellectuaily and emotionaily stimurating working conditions. A proliferation of new social movements seems to suggest that collaboration per se is positive, as an intrinsic critique of individuarism and profit seeking. Then there is the prosaic fact that aftists often want to create their own working conditions, and be shaped by them at the same time.a2 And it is important to point out that aftists and curators today often work under similar economic conditions; both can be classed as ,,precarious workers,', that is, their workini conditions are unstable and uncertain.a3

Collaboration has become a conscious process among artists, a working method. Since the middle of the 1990s, the field of art has expanded and developed affinities with a number of methods inspired by activism. A kind of "neo-idealism" flourishes in the ads alongside political "neo-radicalism." This should come as no surprise; when political principles are completely steered by a capitalist economy, culture necessarily becomes an arena for ideological debate. Culture in general, and aft in particula then function as venues where the political is allowed to be enacted, if sometimes covertly. A situation then emerges in which the political discussion in the public spaces of parliamentary democracies turns increasingly to ethics and morality, and art begins to seek out latent forms of political expression-such as notions of citizenship-that have either been eroded, utterly transformed, or long taken for granted. Today, we have reached a point where culture and art are not only used as instruments in the political arena, but also constitute a potent force, discernable in the strong interest in activism we now find in contemporary art.
It is here that the collaborative turn in contemporary ad becomes most apparent, as it has increasingly been developed as a way of creating room for its practitioners to maneuver around instrumentalizing effects of both the art market and publicly financed art alike. lt is simply easier to develop your own self-determined ways '1 of working when you are self-organized. lf the art of the 990s was previously distinct marked by a desire to dissolve borders and mingle fields, the new millennium has revealed a form of "neo-separatism." We have seen an increase not only in self-definition and a withdrawal from the commercial market, but also in the distinction between larger mainstream public institutions and self-organized parallel initiatives' Whereas the larger mainstream institutions strive to be public-friendly, and therefore tend to adhere to the principles of entertainment, selforganized initiatives are more investigative, preferring to question given preconditions. While this division has always existed, in recent years it has seen more pronounced distinctions. Collaborative practitioners can indeed be found everywhere within this, as well as within public and commercial institutions, but a significant number are clearly more at home as self-organized parallel initiatives. lt is easier to strategically separate oneself as part of a group than on one's own. This urge to create space for maneuver-a "collective autonomy," to

"The socar as a medium, meanng and motvation,, n coroquum on coilaborative Practice: Dispostive Workshop part 4, op. cit. 42 Stefan Rmer, "Are the vorcanoes stil Active? About Artst serf-organzaton at Art schoors,,, ibid. 43- Alex Farquhaon, ,,Notes on Artist and Curator Groups,,,bid.

41 Judith schwartzbart,

202

SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING

203

THECOLLABOBATIVETURN

borrow a term from Brian Hormes-through strategic separatism, is both a means of protection and an act of protest.a.
It has been claimed that the anthroporogy of coilaboration must be considered together with Marcer Mauss's cail for gift rerations. Something as apparently insignificant as a gift is not just an expression of unserfish generosity, but arso a way of exercising power through the reciprocal logic of the poflatch.as. ls collaboration per se, then, a "good" method? Eve Chiapello claims that the co_ option of "aftist critique" by neoliberal neo-management theory while proving that it has been "successful," has also made it essentil[ toothless.46 ln a curture of mandatory coffee breaks and consensus, such as in sweden, which outwardry embraces coilaboration as part of its mandate to promote communication and dialogue, rn.ny oi the thoughts mentioned above probabry seem very famiriar. positive values such as loyalty, flexibility, altruism, and solidarity are baked into the concept of collaboration, but collaboration can also stand for the opposite, for treachery and ethicar instabirity. A coilaborator can be a traitor, someone seruing the enemy, a person not to be trusted. The same may be said of cooperative methods. rt is therefore wofth noting that communication and collaboration can be efficient smokescreens for their abirity to produce generosity and soridarity. The crux of understanding when coilaborations work (and when t-hey don't) thus lies in specificity, ,in the precision of the ,,here and now,,, the consideration of time, context, and other surrounding forces. But what of the resurts? Does it make any difference whether diverse forms of aftistic collaboration lie behind an artwork or any other kind of cultural production? ls collaboration an inherently ,,better,' method, producing "better" results? The curatorial collective wHW claims that the purpose of colraboration ries in producing something that wourd othenise not take prace; it has to make possibre that which wourd othenvise be impossible.4T.

44. See
2OO4)

Bria

Hormes, "Artistic Autonomy and the communicaton society," Third rext, no. .1g (November

45. See Steven Wright, "The Delicate Esence of Artistc Collaboraton,,, ibid. 46' Eve chapello, "Evorution and co-optaton: The 'Artist critque' of i/anagement and captarism,,' ibd 47 What, How & for whom, "New ouflnes of the po$bre," n coilectve crtvty (Kser: Fridericanum, 2OOS). Kunsthaile

204.

SELECTED MARIA LIND WRITING