Monday, April 16, 2018

The Collab Project

John Plowman and I first met back in 2011 on the long line for the British pavillion featuring Mike Nelson at the Venice Biennale. I got talking to John and his partner Nicola Streeten about artists curating other artists in rural settings, a focus we all shared at the time. I bumped into John and Nicola again at Documenta in 2012, and so we began to realize that inevitably we would do something together.

John contacted me in 2017 to say that the UK Arts Council had a grant for artists seeking to collaborate in an international setting. John proposed that we undertake a collaborative residency and I became interested int he idea of dedicating myself to regular studio time again. So we agreed and proceeded in planning the residency for January 2018.

Four weeks of the residency is not a long time and so John and I began to collaborate by phone and email. We decided the residency should examine the nature and process of collaboration and that looking at ideas related to place would be a good jumping off point. We emailed ideas about our respective places and what defines place for us and also made a physical work each which we mailed across the Atlantic.

When John arrived, we began the process in earnest. We debated where to start and I suggested making body maps, a process I have used in several settings prior. Key to the process is starting each piece with two parties tracing their outlines on a single piece of paper. This seemed like the perfect visual metaphor for what we were exploring. From there, the work pushed forward fast. We left behind ideas of place and worked together on ideas and topics that came out of the nature of the collaboration itself. 

The idea of shadows and shadowing began to take prominence. While working together, we also made individual works that generated out of the key strategies we were using in the collaboration. John and eventually made 4 short films together and created an installation/exhibition for the open house day. 

The process made me very aware of the pressures of keeping a studio practice as well as tending to everyday admin and other matters - the life of a working artist. I also got to experience the arc of a residency with the initial vacuum, the rush of ideas, the starts and stops of work and final push for the open house.

I am very grateful to John for suggesting the project and for his patience and inspiration in working together.

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