Artists work in groups. This is a primary fact of artistic production. Collective work is an a priori, a reality of creative life. At nearly every moment artists are working together in one way or another and under many different arrangements. Without the others no one can succeed. Artists’ groups have helped them to survive in a capitalist system which values art primarily as a branded commodity, and in which agents seek to accumulate art as cheaply as possible. The history of artists’ collaborations describes a flow of both resistant and protective cultural formations that moves through time. These contingent practices change shape according to the necessities of artists’ lives – maximizing their chances to live cheaply with time to work on their art, and to escape alienated labour, first in the industrial shop, and now in the service and information industry.
The social organization of artistic production is generally considered to be extraneous to the forms of art. Indeed, the analysis of each has come to concern different scholarly disciplines, with formal criticism at one end, and the sociology of art – and increasingly arts administration and management of creative production – at the other. The questions of artistic collectivity and collaboration per se cut across disciplinary lines. Different adaptations of the collaborative practice within artistic production have diverse outcomes, generating institutions, programmes and works of art, as they have always done.
The event at the Public Library in Bergen will be a reading and discussion of several interviews of artist collectives that Shukaitis has done for his upcoming book Combination Act Aesthetics.