A Word From Shana and Tad

Art-making is fundamentally an expressive act, mainly undertaken in private if not solitude. Artists determine the viability of a work before revealing it to audiences, and are directly invested in its meaning, in the communication of their singular vision through their objects and images. Exhibition curating is on the whole more interpretive than creative, however there is also a dimension of self-expression, as curators are asked to apply their own original ideas in framing and selecting elements in the service of meaning. In both cases, collaboration is typically a choice, partners known and invited with deliberation, with communication lines wide open.

As everyone knows, the Joint Custody Project turns the creative process on its head, setting up blind collaborations between strangers intended to both challenge personal and aesthetic boundaries, to force a relinquishing of control over what matters most. To trust. What has been more unexpected is the degree to which our experience of curating the show parallels what we are putting the artists through. We had never met before agreeing to work together, an artist and a critic, but like the artists, we just took the chance.

A great deal of our work was done on line, via email relay. We chose not to impose any strict idea or precondition on our choices, to use intuition as a guide, trust that patterns and linkages would suggest themselves to us and that titles and themes could be articulated later, when things were clearer. We each went back to our studios and drew up initial lists and tentative pairs, and started shuffling our decks. We later explained ourselves, made compromises, played word games and all the rest, and the result, the lineup if you will, reflects each of us equally but is nothing either one of us would or could have done solo. We hope your collaborations go as smoothly.

Below we’ve pasted a few passages from our correspondence, salient comments and exchanges which we hope offer some insight into what went on during this process, in case anyone is curious about what we were thinking.

After the first round, we edited each other. Tad said this: “I do like a lot of your pairings...only a few cases where I know the people well that I sense disaster. Check out so-and-so’s website. I think it’s worth including and they would play well with others. From your groupings I really don’t like the works of this person and that one…”

That part was pretty smooth, our tastes proved different but compatible. One very interesting exchange came up when we were doing the matching. As a writer, SND at first was really excited about cross-pollinating mediums, photographers with painters, sculptors with performance artists, that kind of thing. But as an artist, Tad felt that pushing people way outside of their practices is presumptuous. “I would be pissed off if I was paired with someone way outside of my practice. Like what I am supposed to do with this wet painting or what am I supposed to do with this data DVD if I am a painter?”

Good point. So that being settled, we turned our attention to the theme and title for the show. We didn’t want to be too narrow or arbitrary with anything like portraits (unfair to abstractionists) or a restricted palette or some poem to respond to or etc. We started throwing words around like hybrid, twin, mirror, uncertainty, I Ching, Carl Jung, Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, duality, romance, fate… SND wrote: “We have been talking about duality as a formative principle of life as well as contemporary art in general, additionally highlighted by the specific, literal nature of this project. For my part I was very attracted to the esoteric implications, you know, all that Hindu and Buddhist stuff about what is real and what is an illusion, the connection between the mind and the body, abstraction and figuration being a perfect example of how these things manifest in art…”

Meanwhile, Tad, who in the beginning was all about ambiguity and open-endedness, started following the gallery’s original theme about children who grow up with two homes and multiple families after a divorce or the pushing of gambling and addiction to always go double or nothing.

But in the end SND managed to talk him out of that, perhaps in the process of judging her visceral reaction against that direction failing to thoroughly contemplate her resistance to it, but so what. No babies.

In the end we were thinking about Double or Nothing, but we realized that nothing was no longer an option, so we went with Double Up/Double Down. It has action, it references the binary authorship situation, it reminds you of the risk, the gamble as it were, but without such stark stakes or finality as Double or Nothing. We think it’s vague enough that no one will feel controlled but has enough specificity to generate a range of associations and spark a range of emotions and narrative threads in individual artists…

Oh and Tad hated the word partner. We changed Partner to Collaborator in the literature, just because..

-Shana & Tad

Images courtesy elliotcable and weddingcakes

1 comment:

galleryrevisited said...

i like the gambling theme wedding cake picture for this blog...a marriage if you will - this whole thing is kinda like an arranged marriage.
i'm ultra excited to see who my non-partner is.

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