Choreographic Objects, William Forsythe + How to Collaborate: 25 Leading Art Collectives

Introduction (Amrit)

  • collaborating isn’t for everyone, as some work better in teams and others work better solo.
    • There are positives and negatives when working with others, like many things
    • “… ‘two – or more – heads are better than one’ doesn’t apply to everyone…” (Artspace Editorial)
  • Ellen Mara De Wachter, a London based writer and curator, wrote a book about collaboration.
    • Asking questions like “what can I learn from the experience?”
    • Book name: De Wachter, Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration

Question#1 (Joy)

  • How do you resolve disputes?
  • DIS: Learn to agree on what’s important. Sometimes it is advantageous to deviate from the original direction. And sometimes it’s cool when someone loses control. In a team, it is necessary for someone to lose control. Learning to pick different battlefields and letting go of control when appropriate is also beneficial to the team. When everyone has their own opinions and opinions are not the same, it will let people learn to express their own opinions (” you lean how to negotiate “). This will get people interested in things that would otherwise be boring.
  • GUERRILLA GIRLS: They often discuss the details. Although they often disagree about whether to keep the project alive or not. It was because of their different opinions on the project and their determination and perseverance that the project reached the end.
  • LOS CARPINTEROS: People with ideas are welcome at Banks. Whether an idea can be implemented and whether it can go further is also a question that people need to consider. But it’s something you have to go through in a collaboration, including disagreements. So there’s a mechanism for things to exist in different ways. Because an idea that might not work today or feel bad today might turn out to be a great idea later. So collaboration is something you have to go through to implement an idea.
  • RAQS MEDIA COLLECTIVE: If there is a disagreement, people will not rush to solve it now, but wait for the future development.
  • BROOMBERG & CHANARIN: “I think it’s about a sense of ownership.” It needs a sense that people are working together for it. It makes the project run more comfortable when everyone is doing their own thinking and work for it. And going through setbacks is a necessary and important part of the process. When people look back on the experience, they can see how ideas were formed. Normally, there’s always someone who really likes an idea while working on a project. It’s possible that the idea won’t work, and it’s possible that there’s some disagreement about the idea. People choose to ignore the problem and let it develop on its own. And their attention will shift to something else. But the problem always comes up at other times and in other situations. And when that happens, everyone can look at it with equanimity. ‘We’ll put that aside right now, it’s going to come back again.’
  • ASSEMBLE: People find that they have no obvious differences or problems in such a long time. “It’s partly because the whole thing has never had a manifesto”. Because they think everyone has their own opinion. And whether they agree or not, they are all equal and valid. “We have a social agenda and are really political, when actually it could all change tomorrow, because Assemble is representative of the people within it.”

Question#2 (Kluane)

  • Is there a hierarchy in the group?
  • GCC: Take into consideration the different personalities and “temperments” existing in the group. The balance of the workload will shift from time to time, in an effort to utilize individual’s specific skill sets. Individual’s skill sets and knowledge base will also influence decisions, but voting and “extended discussions” regarding these decisions will help achieve balance.
  • RAQ’s MEDIA COLLECTIVE: yes there is a shifting hierarchy. Different attributes such as “stoicism, idiosyncracy, whimsy, fragility, and amnesia” are constantly shifting in each collaborator, and hierarchy happens when these attributes crossover.
  • GUERILLA GIRLS: because of varying experience and expertise within a group, hierarchies over time are inevitable. New people can bring new, fresh ideas, but a group that is too large can be difficult to work with. Passing projects “around” to gain more opinions clarifies the project.
  • THE PROPELLER GROUP: working with an outside opinion (someone outside of the group) directs the attention away from the hierarchy within the group and instead to the hierarchy OF the group, and how each member contributes to the direction of the group in some way.
  • SUPERFLEX: Legally, one group member is deemed leader, although this isn’t the case in Superflex’s creative process. Arguing and fighting can be productive, and once there is a clear answer or path discovered through this, everyone in the group is aware. Making your opinions and voice heard is vital. Participation is key, but not if its being used to exercise power in the group.

*take-away (what is interesting to me): hierarchy is fluid within a collaboration group, and changes depending on what skills are required for the project. Experience and expertise is valuable, but a fresh new idea is equally valuable. Working with too many people can make it really challenging to get anything done, but getting an outside point of view (or multiple) is a great way to clarify the project. Also, arguing can be productive. Share your ideas.

Question#3 (Regina)

   How do you feel about shared authorship and the notion of “genius”

Guerrilla Girls: Due to the needs in contemporary art society, the art market tends to show a preference and requirements on more abundant and diversified art forms so that these art forms can have a stronger power of expression to face more complex social phenomena and modern thoughts.

-Los Carpinteros: It is interesting that Los Carpinteros mentions when they explain to people that they work as a group, people with the stereotype of individual artists might think they have some personality problem and alter ego. If we see the shared authorship art group as a intergrated man, the artist in the group can be the different personalities and egos within the body of this integrated man.

-Raqs Media Collective: I like the way they view authorship as “a dispute and an assembly involving things, subjectivities and time”. Authorship does not simply indicate a collection and an assembly of ideas but also involves the collision and the elimination of thoughts.

-DIS: Indicates that there are more and more artists in the field and everything is being diluted. Artists can always find technical and skill complementarities and ideological exchanges in collaboration.

-Elmgreen&Dragset: It is interesting that they try to weaken the idea of authorship and rather describing their process of making art is an result of their ongoing dialogue.To some extent, they weaken the ownership identity of the two parties of the final artwork in the word authorship, but emphasizes that the concept of authorship promotes the communication and cooperation between artists in the process of artistic creation.

-GCC: The process of collaboration is the process of mixing one’s self identity to a bigger identity as a group.

How to Collaborate: 25 Leading Art Collectives Share Their Creative Processes Part 2

Introduction (Robert)

–                 Hypothesized: Can effective collaboration be learned? I think this is entirely based on the individual. I feel like this is rooted entirely in the preference of the individual of preferring group or individual work.

–                 On dispute resolution: I try to keep in mind that everyone’s ideas and thoughts should be viewed equally. In VA there is no wrong answer so there is no use crossing out ideas.

–                 On “Hierarchy Formation,” I actually see this as a positive since it allows the natural leader, or those enthusiastic with an idea to thrive. Some members of the group don’t mind contributing to the overall idea and can work effectively in a more passive way. Too much competition and conflicting ideas ultimately makes the brainstorm process more difficult

–           Overall thoughts: Although people can learn to ‘endure’ working as a group, I believe the strongest team members are ones that put the intentions of other group members before their own, and are able to adapt and take initiative if need be.

Question#1 (Sabrina)

  • Is there a philosophy or politics you try to embody through working together?
  • General conclusions gathered from each response:
    • It is essential to stay present to the things that really matter, disregarding the transactional, commensurable and measurable, “utopia is a hearing aid”.
    • It is as if crafting a riddle, where you end up figuring a solution by going against the issue.
    • It is unique. Everyone in the collaborative process must feel good about doing so, in their own manner. To preserve diversity.
    • To conquer and fight against the distance between our social individuality and the oppression of it.
    • To own your work. Letting the work speak for itself as it is a manifestation of the group
    • Understanding that everything is changing every second, a constant flux in an endless cycle.
  • I find myself thinking similarly to Lizzie Fitch/ Ryan Trecatin’s response, where they emphasize on appreciating the diversity within the group, as well as ensuring that everyone in the group feels good about the collaborative process in their own manner. I believe that everyone must feel positive about their work in order for good work to be created. Having people from different backgrounds and expertises, is such a valuable opportunity to gain perspectives from areas where you may have a blind spot on, and have never thought of before. They also mentioned the appreciation of your ideas transforming and being humbled by other’s ideas, which only recently I have been able to relate to. Also relating to The Propeller Group’s statement on “knowing that everything changes all the time” heightens the appreciation of my ideas changing and transforming. It is a force of nature for things to constantly change, and for ideas to go through the same process benefits it, by allowing it to go in the path of nature. In a way it seems healing and refreshing for things to take turns, whether expected or not. If I were to write a personal philosophy, it would be to throw any and every idea you have. This may sound weird but I thought of the saying “one man’s garbage is another man’s gold” (although no idea is garbage or gold, nor is anyone below others in any aspect), where an idea you may feel is dumb or just trash, may be the missing link or an inspiration to another person. Especially from different disciplines, there may be many perspectives you haven’t considered with your idea, but others may immediately have unique responses towards it.

Question#2 (Amrit)

Do you have any rituals when you work collaboratively?

IAIN FORSYTH AND JANE POLLARD// Based in London. Co-artists since 1994. Two members.

  • “the secret ballot” is a method that we find doing over and over again w/o realising it.
  • Collaboration is the: psychology of discussion, psychological manipulation and persuasion
  • It is writing down the choices opinions and decisions
    • Forcing answers w/o over influencing

Åyr // Based in London. Co-artists since 2014. Four members.

  • Smoking weed
  • Using the steam from a sauna
  • Reading tarot-cards
  • Eating Neapolitan food
  • Burning sage

Allora and Calzadilla // Based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Co-artists since 1995. Two members.

  • working from 10am – 6pm, keeping the right timing and staying organized t
    • There are times that everything flows along smoothly, and other times that gets your mind stuck.
    • To keep everything moving, its good to take walks or drives

RAQS Media Collective

  • brewing and drinking tea, for those moments of disagreements, decision making and thinking

The Propeller Group

  • having a beer with the group, while discussing and deciding over the collaborative work.

Question#3 (Joy)

  • Has the art market had any effect on your collaboration?
  • EVA and FRANCO MATTES:There are a lot of dealers who have doubts about whether there will be disagreements and whether they will be dissolved. But in reality, “that is not an option.” there are many different forms of groups in the art world now, but in reality, disbanding for some reason is not something collectors need to worry about. Because there are so many ways in which the concept of the author exists today.
  • GUERRILLA GIRLS:They do not want to become part of the art market, but exist as a separate form. They want to prove that there are so many choices out there. They tried to create “a new market paradigm of how to survive as artists.” they didn’t want to be famous or become rich because of it. What they want is to make it a job and have fun with it.
  • CLAIRE FONTAINE :The way they are used to living and working is not very consistent with the current social space in the art world. So this has some effect on their “career”. “But actually the way values and status are codified and read by different social systems is the core of the work.”
  • BROOMBERG & CHANARIN:They are a duo which means they don’t have the word “fingerprint” on their work: it means to lose something special and “it lacks an aura.” This is very difficult for people involved in the market because they need an “aura”.
  • GCC:People are interested that they are a very large group. But they don’t have a “sustainable business model.”

Question#4 (Kluane)

            -How do you divide the division of labour?

            -LaBEOUF, RONKKO and TURNER: Everyone has hands in everything, but some people’s specific skills or qualities are utilized more in some areas than others. Trust in each others intuition is important. Everyone has veto power, and either all three agree or nothing happens.

            -GCC: People with certain skills are responsible for that aspect (video editing, etc.) Google drive is a great tool.

            -DIS: Take turns giving talks

            ASSEMBLE: Every member only works on what they want to work on, and what projects their interested in. Finance, business plans and legal work are shared with everyone in the group.

            -PAULINE BOUDRY / RENATE LORENZ: a “ping-pong practice” where everyone takes turns with the work.

            *take away (what’s interesting to me): I like that sharing the work and having people work on what they are interested in or have a knack for is a common theme. I find it interesting how LaBEOUF… is a three or nothing vote, where all members of the group have to think an idea is worth pursuing for it to happen.

Question#5 (Regina)

   What are the benefits of working collaboratively in your experience?

-GCC: Working together gives force and opportunity to allow artists to learn from each other. Personally I think it is a valuable experience because the relationships of artists in the same art community and artists working on the same project have totally different relationships. Usually artists who work on the same project have more interaction with each other, have a closer relationship and thus have a good chance to improve themselves while working together.

-Pauline Boundry/Renate Lorenz: In a collaborative working environment, you might not be over stressed out on a specific problem because you can always look for help from your collaborators and seek for a different point of view.

-The Propeller Group: First of all, I like the way Archie Pizzini describes the process of collaborating as “the longest distance between two points”. As the two points try to find the intersection point, we get a chance to stand on another view point and think differently. Even though it seems like a more complicated way to the end point(the finished art piece), however, the process of thinking is valuable in all other art creating processes.

 It is also interesting that THe Propeller Group said that “the most successful collaborative projects are where the mistakes are so seamlessly embraced and seemingly

intentional in nature that the viewer doesn’t even notice them”. To my understanding, collaboration does not mean to eliminate the mistakes or imperfectness from the art piece, but to furnish them by layering them with different viewpoints and thus makes it a cuter and richer “mistakes” that allows people to think over and over again.

Choreographic Objects by William Forsythe

Paragraph 1-2 (Robert)

  • Artists like to challenge the creation of a standardized, universal “definition.” While words conceptually represent the object, they cannot take into account all variations, discoveries, and ideas related to said object.
  • They’re saying the word “Choreography” can be deduced to the “thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action,” which while I agree, makes understanding confusing.
  • I agree that to fully understand a concept you need to learn the history and connotations surrounding the idea as well. By challenging the definitions we’ve become so used to, we’re expanding the possibilities and potential for the creation of art.

Paragraph 3-4 (Sabrina)

  • every action is a response to a previous action, in anticipation to a future action
  • absolute proof being the visible performance done by the performer, “action upon action” allowing us to understand that such proof is a result and has been derived from previous failures
  • there is no one way of executing a choreograph, or to construct one.
  • “the hope of being without enduring”, makes me assume the purpose of choreography as to simply exist at the time of execution, but not intended to be something that is long-lasting, such as a sculpture or painting.
  • can dance be considered a gut feeling, drive that is enabled when choreography is present?
  • dancing permits the execution of choreography
  • choreography is fluid; taking on the shape and functions of many actions within the body and influencing our behaviour
  • It feels possible that without the body, choreography can still generate autonomous expressions of its principles; through other mediums and forms, utilising rhythm, sound, colours, shapes and more.
  • This makes me think about synesthesia; a condition where perception triggers a reaction/ response of more than one sensory input (e.g. visual and auditory, where certain sounds would trigger specific images or colours.) I believe that choreography may work in a similar way, where choreographic thought can inspire different senses such as certain colours, shapes…etc.
  • However, without the body, is the choreographic thought still present? Unless imprinted elsewhere, the thought only remains as a thought. Even if it has been somehow transcribed, others retrieving such information will all be different and unique to the original thought, which may enrich it.

Paragraph 5-10 (Emma)

  • Degenerated by centuries of ideologies the body in motion is relegated to the sense of raw thought process and emotion
  • Your inner image in your head is like a boundless mental canvas that exists nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
  • That which can’t been seen but can be felt is like opening and boundless template to create a never ending flowing river of creativity
  • Ideas put us in motion and allow us to leave discernible traces of who we are and what we stand for on this earth they let us leave something outside our bodies for the rest of the world to enjoy well after we have left
  • The lack of persistence like in bodily motion give in to ephemerality and allows for different perspectives and understandings of piece of work
  • Do we need to make distinction between tradition and enactments not because we no longer appreciate one or the other but simply for the fact of having something to aid in the organization of the acts.
  • A choreographic object is not a substitute for the body movement but rather an alternative to the understanding of the organization of actions
  • Choreographic ideas hopefully encourage an attentive diverse readership that will allow people to draw their own diverse understandings that are new and old in how we think of choreography