collaborating couples

Download Collaborating Couples

Post on 31-Mar-2016




0 download

Embed Size (px)


This brochure accompanied the exhibition of the same name, on view at the Georgia Museum of Art June 3-Aug. 6, 2000, and features an essay by Donald Keyes.


  • C LLABORATINGC?UPLES'*i:{::,,tru&r

  • , ,l ,.i i,," :, r

    ,i" , tt"


    ti lll l'ill lli

    : : rrrl;

    l,ll 'i.

    , i

    , ,:l

    ,,1 ,1,t"ta'

  • Lizzie & oavid zucker saltz

    DenwM sirlin a phil auslnnder

    susrtilr..oh(rts *. uichnel siwon

    LeeAnn uitchell & 1im truonnccorsi

    oebornh Mcclnry anunt clwk

  • rtists have always collaborated, since the building of the pyramids to the present; however, the modern museum in the

    late eighteenth century and particularly in the twentieth century brought about exaltation of the master artist, who works

    in his studio to create unique works of art that miraculously convey insights into eternal truths. Artists' biographies nearly

    always stress the creativity of an extraordinary (usually male) individual struggling alone to find artistic self-expression. lnthe 1970s this concept of the lone artist creating unique works of art began to lose its grip as its validity was challenged

    and soon debunked. Buffeted by the tenets of Post-modernism, readily available and easily reproducible images, artist-

    cooperatives, and feminist ideology, the art world began to (re)connect with the work of art as a collaborative effort.During the 1950s, Happenings, earth art, installation art, and performance art brought new acceptance and recognition to the importance of many

    hands and minds contributing to a work of art. While Andy Warhol's Factory may have given collaboration a bad name, Judy Chicago and Miriam

    Shapiro, inthe 197Os, forged new models for collaborative working methods. The monumental achievemenlof Einstein on the Beach (1976) cannotsimply be ascribed to Philip Class's music and words without recognition of the deslgn/direction of Robert Wilson and the choreography of Andrew

    de Croat and Lucinda Childs.

    In the late nineteenth century it became possible for women to do "serious" work, and consequently, an increasing number of women decided

    to become professional artists. Often choosing to use the new medium of photography, they began creating important, innovative, and successful

    works of art. The independent woman of the early twentieth century became a growing presence in the rough-and-tumble competition of the art

    world; she did not feel forced to work in her studio after the housework was done and the children were cared for. Ceorgia O'Keeffe may be the best

    known of these modern women artists, but she is hardly unique.

    As more women became professional artists, the previous contributions of women began to emerge as new scholarship revised canonical

    art history. As these women achieved recognition for their collaborations with their husbands, a new appreciation for the give-and-take of the cre-

    ative process emerged. Many couples only have temporary partnerships, either because the personal relationship is brief or the individuals' collabo-

    ration lasts only for one or two projects. Moreover, collaborating couples need not be of the opposite sex and may include less traditional partner-ships. Although post-war McCarthyism in America made it difficult for American women to get out of the house or out from behind the secretary's

    desk, supportive communities coalesced, particularly in San Francisco and New York. ln the late 1950s JasperJohns and Robert Rauschenberg made

    significant contributions to each other's art, even though they continued to create their own works. While their relationship was very private, Johns

    later acknowledged Rauschenberg's contribution: '. . . we were very dependent on one another. There was that business of triggering energies. Other

    people fed into that but it was basically a two-way operation."

  • It seems natural for artists to have close personal relationships, whether in or out of marriage, because they have broad common interests.

    This is not to say all are collaborative; indeed, many married couples, including Susan Rothenburg and Bruce Nauman, Leon Colub and Nancy Spero,

    and Nancy Rubin and Chris Burden, work independently from each other. For other married couples, including Ceorgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz

    and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rlvera, the effect each had on the other's work is more subtle and has only recently been acknowledged and investigated. ln

    other marriages one contributes to the work of the other-often without acknowledgment-as, for example, Annie and Joseph Albers and David

    Smith and Dorothy Dehner. More recently, collaborative work, along with the emergence of non-traditional relationships, has gained acceptance and

    even some renown, as for example, the designers Charles and Ray Eames, sculptors Ed and Nancy Redding Keinholz, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the

    British installation and performance artists Cilbert and Ceorge, the American photographers Mike and Doug Starn, and the Soviet exiles Komar and

    Melamid. These partners nearly always create and are acknowledged as one entity, although the work of the designer Charles Eames and the painter

    Ray Kaiser Eames exemplifies the changes that have taken place over the last thirty years. During World War ll their plywood experiments were used

    by the military, but after the war, Charles had an exhibition of his work at the Museum of Modern Art. Only in 1960 did their collaborative work

    receive recognition in the form of the Kaufmann International Design Award. Another example of this change can be found in the role accorded

    Coosje van Bruggen and her work with Claes Oldenburg, recognition that was denied Hannah Wilkie, his earlier collaborator. Computer artists Ed Hill

    and Suzanne Bloom have gone so far as to create a new identity/name, Manual, under which they present their work.

    The work of the five couples in the present exhibition runs the gamut of collaboration. For Susan Roberts and Michael Simon collaborating

    is new. Sculptors LeeAnn Mitchell and Jim Buonaccorsi only occasionally work together. Deanna Sirlin and Phil Auslander seldom work together and

    indeed work in what might in other circumstances seem incompatible media-he with words as an art historian and critic and she with paint. Lizzie

    and David Zucker Saltz also work in different media, she as sculptor and critic and he as a theater director. Their collaboration results in installation

    sculpture. Sculptors Hunt Clark and Deborah McClary have nearly always worked together, although often not on a single work.

    lnterviews with each couple reveal another truth about collaborations: the personal relationship is often the most difficult part of working

    together. What happens when you reach an irreconcilable point of opposite opinions? How do you keep from letting one person dominate? lf one

    person is expert in one medium, can the other become competent enough to make meaningful suggestions for change? None of these questions is

    easily answered, but the effort often infuses the art with an energy and creativity that one person working alone may not often achieve.

    DowLld.D. Kry$cLLYntoY $ vnintinns

    Grcrlin Uuseum olArt

  • Ltznezu&ff snkfunvrlza&ersaltz ;ffiffi;:: ; ;";ff ;:ductions. ln 1984, after graduating from college (Barnard and Yale, respectively), they collaborated

    on a video, with Lizzie on camera and David directing. Late[ as David began to utilize his computerprogramming skills to create theatrical experiments during his graduate studies at Stan{ord and as

    Lizzie integrated perfornance elements and audience interaction into her sculptural installations

    during graduate studies at San Jose State, they decided to focus on merging the dramatic potential

    of theatrical scenarios with the physical presence and interactive potential of a sculpture setting.

    After belng involved with each other's ventures, they decided to collaborate in 1996, this tirne cre-

    ating FLEICO: The Fluid ldentity Electronic Companion, a life-scale figure of indeterminate race or

    gender, whose reactions varied depending on audience members' physical interactions, and whose

    personality changed periodically. While teaching at SUNY-Stony Brook, New York, David created

    Beckett Space, an environmental theater experience involving simultaneous short plays that resem-

    bled a gallery experience in which the audience could wander in a large space from one play to the

    next. Many of the performances used interactive eiectronic devices to actualize Samuel Beckett's

    precise, algorithmic scenarios. One of the pieces in the present exhibition is a continuation of that

    rhe ureriltring crnb, zoooPVC, aluminum, fabric, LEDs, DC blower, electronics, audiorecording, sensors, Macintosh computer, and audio speaker30 x 19 x 19 inchesArtisls' statement: An obiedvagtely evocalive of a uab liesdormant until human participants approach, at whidt time itbegins to breathe audibly. The closer the participants gelto thecrab, the faster and more fully it breathes. As the viewer movesaway from the crab, its breath slows, then becomes painfullyragged, and finally ceases.

    Eufrnuces &Elits, z0a0Wood, metal, stepper motors and drivers, electronics, videoprojector, video recording, headphones, and digital prints85 x 33 x 56 inchesMechanical design consultants: Jason Lake and Richard CassadaMechanical implementation assistance: Ollivier BonamyActress: Carolyn BlackintonArtists' statement: This "sculptural animation" performs athree-minute play based on Samuel Beckett's shofttext "Comeand Co." The play is performed oglically with the characterstrapped in a relentless perpetual motion machine. Within apuppet theater-like proscenium ctpening, viewers see threeimages that move up and down to