Saturday, January 25, 2014

On the nature of Collaboration.

Collaboration is a much-bandied about word these days. It is a two-for-one deal, advertised as if it were a wrestling match between two greats. 

Mural by Chris Parks and Tes One

Just what is a collaboration? Below is the Art Lex definition. 

From Art Lex...

ccollaboration - Two or more artists working together in a joint effort to produce artworks. Also known as working in an art collective.
Examples include the work of artists whose works require use of specialized techniques such as casting, printmaking, electronics, and engineering. Sometimes artists collaborate simply to insure that their work is not the product of one person. Consider the surrealist technique called exquisite corpse.

And here, the Wikipedia version:

WIkipedia Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals.[1] It is a recursive[2] process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective, determination to reach an identical objective[by whom?][original research?]) — for example, an endeavor[3][4] that is creative in nature[5]—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus.

In the past year or two, several murals and at least two shows claiming to be collaborative have taken place in St. Pete. But they were, with a handful of exceptions at the BL "Duo" show, and one mural by Tes One and Dollah on 1st St N. on the side of the Morean, more like juxtaposed diptychs or collages. That is, two independent, different designs, styles simply put side by side or within one frame.

Mural by Chris Parks and BASK

One can clearly draw a vertical line between the work of each person. There is no apparent synthesis of any kind, other than by the joining of the works, and neither party yields one bit of individuality. There are no apparent shared goals other than throwing up side-by-side work and garnering the added publicity these works generate.

Mural by BASK and Tes One

I would like to see more genuine collaborations, where there are shared interests and consensus evidenced in the resulting work, where a synthesis actually happens, and a "third" artist is manifested in the work. 

Mural by Chris Center and Acud Akut

I spoke with an artist last weekend about this, and he recoiled at the idea, saying that it would grate against his individuality. Exactly! Collaborations can be much like making a film. While theories of auteurship are hotly debated, the nature of cinematic collaboration is not. 

Many of the best-known works of art, through the 15th century, are collaborations, not between artists of equal stature, but the products of several individuals in a shop. 

Mural by Acud Akut and Dollah

Perhaps the shining example of a collaborative mural in Saint Petersburg is on 1st St N, on the side of the Morean property. While it is easy to tell who did what section of this mural, at least the two artists integrated their design into a coherent whole. One cannot throw down a line of demarcation and separate the two. 

I am not saying that any work of art should look a particular way, but that too many of them are at the moment. 

--- Luis


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