PRINT February 2011


Chto Delat?, The Tower: A Songspiel, 2010, still from a color video, 36 minutes 52 seconds.

GOING FROM ONE TO TWO is going overboard. Working with others means exceeding, sharing, even contaminating—whether with an intimate partner or a band of outsiders, with fellow avant-gardists or an unknown audience. Well after the Impressionists incorporated themselves and the Surrealists assembled their exquisite corpse, after Gilbert met George and Fischli met Weiss, the collective, the factory, the duo have all persisted, even if they are still relatively rare. Artists continue to collaborate in arrangements that span loose underground communities, corporations (ersatz or actual), offices, brands, collectives, and pairs.

While many of these endeavors have become well known, the actual terms of association often remain opaque. The essays collected in the February issue present specific vantages on the premises and promises of collaboration, looking less toward broad engagements with the public sphere than inward, toward disturbances within and between subjects. Critic Tom Holert surveys the rise and fate of artistic collaboration within the networked global economy, where we all find ourselves connected as participants and “team players.” Other pieces concentrate on Soviet-style artistic formations and their legacy in the former Eastern bloc, where the stakes of collaboration are especially high. Curator Nicholas Cullinan enters the enclaves of Slavs and Tatars and Chto Delat?, two contemporary collectives for whom the design firm may be just as potent a model as the Proletkult, while art historian Maria Gough unpacks the myth of the Soviet collective, tracing its very different incarnations from Unovis to the Brezhnev-era painters’ brigades. And critic Claire Bishop teases out the multifarious relationships of Paweł Althamer, which permit new patterns of familiarity and strangeness, identity and interaction. In addition, Artforum asked a variety of collaborating artists around the globe—General Idea, MadeIn, Guyton\Walker, Gelitin, Das Institut, Tiny Creatures, and Claire Fontaine—to shed light on their inner workings, and on the tensions and pleasures that might arise therein.

Michelle Kuo