Art How To Coexist In A Collective

How To Coexist In A Collective

Giorgia Massari

If an artist’s prerogative is often self- centeredness, when we talk about an art collective this prejudice -for the most part well-founded – falters. Being a collective requires patience, sharing and listening, which many times also means «letting go of an idea you have fallen in love with,» the RM collective explains. With them and with other collectives – MRZB, Palazzo Bronzo, Hardchitepture and Extragarbo – we wanted to delve into their structure, to understand how one becomes a collective, but more importantly why and how one continues a common research, undoubtedly dictated by a shared vision built from different thoughts. If in recent years collective work has become increasingly popular, it is probably complicit in the desire to counteract a society that tends instead toward individualism. So the positive aspects are well present, starting with the confrontation and division of tasks, but the complexities exist and start especially from a system – that of art – that often favors the individual, also from a financial point of view. Let’s find out more.

Courtesy Hardchitepture

The meeting point

As with a friendship, everything stems from common ground, but also from shared backgrounds, traumas, urgencies and ideals. Often, the collectives explain, it is the academy that brings them together, empowered by shared mentors and schools of thought that undoubtedly guide aesthetics and research at an embryonic stage.

«We met between the classrooms of the Academy of Fine Arts in Urbino and the abandoned factories where we used to go to paint; being together and sharing the same practices and passions brought us together». (Hardchitepture)

Everything then is carried forward by trust, built over time, and is «reliant on the empathy of the individual.» But also «going to eat at the Chinese place together and drinking coffee in the studio,» the guys from Palazzo Bronzo.

Courtesy Palazzo Bronzo

How do you carry out a collective research? Does being a collective necessarily mean that every member must share the same vision and research?

«For sure, research goes through attending to forms and texts, through studying and sharing, but there is no predefined way to approach a collective research. It is an undulating movement between pursuing defined milestones and exploring unknown spaces, wasting time, being together, talking a lot, trying untrodden paths and seeing where you end up.» (Palazzo Bronzo)

They go into more specifics Extragarbo, explaining that «generally, when we start working there is an initial moment of slow, in-depth discussion where everyone brings their own point of view to the group’s attention, after which a negotiation phase begins where singular intentions and visions mingle and then result in the formalization of a project that is truly collective. The specific union of sensibilities and skills that gives birth to our collective works is something that only Extragarbo is able to imagine. It never responds to the need of an individual. That would be impossible.»

«Deleuze said that it was Félix GuaQari who found the diamonds, but then he was the one who cut them. We function in much the same way, although sometimes we switch roles unintentionally.» (RM)

Courtesy MRZB, Merzbau

Can being a collective be an obstacle?

The obstacle, or rather, the difficulty can often be traced to a systemic problem. In other words, financial, related to the budgets of institutions, galleries and individuals who do not consider group work from the perspective of the economic sustainability of the collective. «Working in collectives is first and foremost an anti-authorial and communal political choice,» Extragarbo explains. «This mode of work, in turn, brings with it a number of very urgent and complicated issues. The first, on which everything else rests, is undoubtedly that of sustainability. Being so many and working as a group in the world of arts and culture in Italy is hardly sustainable. We need to think about hacking and survival strategies and in parallel build experiences and models that can make co-creation become praxis.» Extragarbo’s vision seems to accumulate all the collectives surveyed, but in addition to this factor – which in any case is important to consider and address – a big pro emerges that somehow becomes the needle of the scales. «Working collectively allows a division of roles and tasks, which results in constant hybridization of research, constructive instability of thought structures, complementarity of practice.», MRZB explains.

Courtesy Extragarbo

What is life like in the collective?

Palazzo Bronzo: «Working in groups allows you to do things that you could not do alone, both in the sense of planning and in the sense of implementation, of skills. Together we are able to deepen the ideas of the individual in a broad and diffuse way, enriching, transforming and collectivizing them. In general, the collective highlights all aspects of the relationship with each other. Sharing a space forces one to be resilient because one comes up against ideas, desires, habits, and needs that are different from one’s own. The goal is for difference to become an opportunity for enrichment and for clash to become encounter. In factual practice it means having the ability to step back on what one would like to make room for those who want something different and to understand how much and how to intervene in situations. There is no scientific formula to make this mechanism work; it all relies on the individual’s empathy and ability to understand each other. In these terms knowing ourselves is very important because more than a cog we are an organism aggregated by two connective systems: humanity and identity. We cannot function without knowing each other thoroughly, it follows that along with being comrades within the collective, we are also friends [nakama = 仲間].»

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Un post condiviso da RM (@rear.rm)

Extragarbo: «Working all together is not easy at all, it challenges one’s singular self, and that aspect alone has pros and cons within it. Some frustrations are fed, yet being able to rely on a supportive network is always surprising. Relativizing individual desire means entering into a shared and in any case generative ecosystem of thought. It is a longer and sometimes tiring process because it multiplies steps and needs constant mutual care. It is a very fragile system and for that reason very valuable

We met with RM, MRZB, Bronze Palace, Hardchitepture and Extragarbo on the occasion of the exhibition FARE COLLETTIVO. A new cultural project conceived as a series of exhibition episodes dedicated to a collective of artists and flanked by a publication, the first edited by Platea I Palazzo Galeano.

Written by Giorgia Massari
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