‘&’: collaboration as contemporary arts practice.


i’m sure there’s been loads of stuff written about collaborative art practice as a focus of contemporary art, but i just wanted to write a little about my experience of it as an important aspect of my practice and something i’m really excited about lately.

on monday, i’m going to be doing a sound/public work with 2 other artists, which is going to be a blast. we’re going to be listening and dancing to the sounds of the city, as part of my research on sound in the public space. i’m also pretty excited about having the loculocu boys involved in the project too. collaborative team raphael ruz and jolyon james produce amazingly luscious, sensual and expansive works. i know that their practice is just as much about the images as the process of working with each other, which is an aspect of collaboration i find amazing. like something along the lines of best friend and spouse.*

obviously, the candystripers is a big part of what i do, and my feeling about that relationship is on a similar plane. i was telling someone the other day that i couldn’t imagine my art practice without gemma. [cue: awww…..]**

and when i look at people whose work i love, there’s always a huge chunk of ‘teams’ there:
gilbert & george
jake & dinos chapman
george & ron adams
christo & jean-claude

for me, collaborating with another person to create work, has enabled me to work in a way that i cannot ordinarily:

when i’m working on my own work, it takes a whole lot more effort to have the balanced perspective and the counterpoint during stress. whereas if either gemma or i are getting caught up in stress, anxiety or outright panic, the other automatically assumes the role of the sensible, reasonable type.

similarly, i’m not as particular or careful as i’d like to be, when it comes to my artwork, but when i’m working on candystripers stuff, i’m able to step up enough so that we’re both on that level. and working with someone else, i can work within my limitations and strengths, leaving space for gemma to do what she does best, and vice versa.

financially it’s also a whole lot easier collaborating. you get to split the cost of invitations, gallery space, catalogues and materials. given that the financial climate for the arts is always pretty grim here, it’s unsurprising that collaborating has become a way to benefit more artists for less. 2-for-1!

and then, on a conceptual level, my collaboration with nella themelios provides an opportunity to work from a much more theoretical base. it’s also a chance to challenge the cliche of what the working relationship between a curator and artist is like, and to push that a little. deleuze & guattari, anyone – just for something new?

as an installation artist, from a photographic background who works increasingly in the public sphere, it’s just not possible to work solo. it’s probably painters and crafties that can most easily do that, and while i love that stuff, i’m just not that kind of girl.

of course, given that i’m sharing the process, producing an array of experiences and not-quite-commodity-pieces, it does mean that i’m kind of subscribing to the school of ‘the idea as art’, but in light of digital comms throwing the whole territorialism of art and mark-making open, i’m ok with that.

*given the amount of ace collaborative partners in australia who are also romantic partners, this is unsurprising. see under:
dell stewart and adam cruickshank,
claire healy and sean cordeiro,
jaki middleton and david lawrey,
charles green and lyndell brown,

** don’t forget – our project at bus gallery opens on tuesday night, 9th june, 6-8pm.

image credit: Ampersand/Needle by edgeplot from flickr

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx