June 27, 2016

Art Fart: The Art of Collaboration

Competition doesn't come very naturally to me. I was never a sports person - I hated being pushed to compete and WIN. I liked gymnastics - competing with only myself to do a better cartwheel than before. But I quit when the gym coaches insisted, at the ripe age of 6, that I start competing. Of course, it feels good to win, but I was a sensitive child and never liked the way people got mean when they were stressed to win. I remember my cousins having snow ball fights, playing man hunt, soccer, badminton, and having everyone get mad at me when I missed the ball or let down the team. I could never handle it.

Now as a grown up, I can certainly handle it. I've been known to get pretty competitive myself when I play cards against my fella or during a family game of Taboo. But there's a part of me that still doesn't love it. The same goes for the art world, which I'm sure we can all imagine or know is very competitive. And I haaaaaaate that about it. I want to collaborate, to work together, to support each other, to be friends (lol). Of course I'm not alone in this, but my overwhelming feeling is that the art world sees collaboration as a vehicle for personal success - work with someone who will help elevate you, as opposed to a pure enjoyment of the process of working together.

Maybe I'm wrong? Maybe this is just my experience. Maybe it's the art scene in my city?

I recently had a contrasting experience. I collaborated with my friend, Hannah Spector, who I met when we were both living in Paris. We were introduced by a mutual friend and later adventured to a Mexican Wrestling bar together. That's the extent of how we know each other, but we've kept in touch (thanks, internet) and both like collage and word-y things. We decided to collaborate and sent each other packages of cut up bits, papers, materials, for the other person to put together and compose. This was my result! Something more abstract than my usual, but I love it and had so much fun with this collaboration. It was such a delight to open up the package that Hannah had sent me and find an explosion of googly eyes and a parking ticket, among other things.

This is the kind of art I want to be doing. I want to work with others, I want to build community, I want art making to be more than just about me, sitting at a desk, doing my thing. Is this a bit idealistic? Maybe. I'll figure that out as I go, I suppose!

What is your experience with competitiveness vs. collaboration in the art world?

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