Collaboration as an alternative to or an enrichment of individual art practice is an idea that is definitely in the air. We first thought of collaboration as the theme for an issue of M/E/A/N/I/N/G Online last summer. Since then work by the Winnipeg-based collective, the Royal Art Lodge, has been exhibited at the Drawing Center in New York and Holland Cotter has noted the vitality and success of a number of collectives such as Forcefield and Alife in his January 19th, 2003 article, “Doing Their Own Thing, Making Art Together,” in The New York Times.
We were attracted to the subject because our seventeen-year-long editorial partnership working on various versions of M/E/A/N/I/N/G has been a supportive and instructive part of our lives and because each of us has worked in other collaborative or collective situations. And also world events in the past year have suggested the necessity and appeal of other creative models in addition to that of isolated individual visual artists competing against each other in the art market.
We invited a number of artists who were engaged in an individual studio practice and also in a collaborative artistic practice, including artists engaged in interdisciplinary collaborative work to address the following questions:
What is the nature of your collaboration?
We are happy to present the diverse, lively, and visually rich and inventive responses of the following participants, who have a variety of approaches to collaboration.
Jane Hammond and Raphael Rubinstein comment on their work together on a book printed by Dieu Donne, while Brett Littman, who works for that organization comments on critical issues pertinent to collaborative work. Susan Bee and Charles Bernstein discuss their experiences in the long-respected interactions between artists and poets. Michael Mazur writes about his work with poet Robert Pinsky and meditates on the complex and varied nature of collaborative interaction possible for an artist also devoted to studio practice. Painter Mimi Gross and choreographer Douglas Dunn respond to each other’s view of their long-term work on multiple dance productions together. Rachel Owens and Matthew Lusk give a lively view of the rich possibilities of collaborative art and curatorial work as it interfaces with their community of emerging artists. Kenny Goldsmith and David Wondrich present a hip playful approach to long-term collaboration as two contemporary flâneurs in the city. Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese exemplify the model of joined talents in one body of work that also comments on political issues and they provide the ArtKrush reader a chance to collaborate with their work. Faith Wilding’s reflections on her many experiences with significant historical collective works are joined by comments by her current partners, Lucia Sommer, Steffi Domike, Hyla Willis, and Laleh Mehran, all members of the performance collective subRosa.
All of these responses give us a wonderfully lived-in sense of what it is like to be a working artist and an engaged citizen of a specific art community and of a wider cultural world. With a spirit of generosity, they communicate how art making as a material practice builds from complex, personal, daily negotiations between the private and the social.
Susan Bee and Mira Schor