Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of Brooklyn-based artist Zahar Vaks, an active member of Ortega y Gasset Projects. Enjoy!
Love Child at Ortega y Gasset Projects is an exhibition curated by Eleanna Anagnos, featuring seven pairs of artists who offer various modes of collaboration. Each artist has an established practice and in some cases this individual practice is still visible, only now it is intertwined with another’s thought or touch.
Sometimes a collaboration between two people can feel so seamless that you are unable to recognize either of the participant’s thoughts or hands. The result feels like it was made by one person, who offers an entirely different presence from the collaborators. Such is the case with Rachel Dubuque and Justin Plakas. Dubuque’s works are usually saturated with color. They are bold and filled with many different mythological narratives. Plakas makes work that is very minimal. His color is subtle and the forms and imagery appear and reappear slowly. Yet, when they come together to make something, it is as if there is a “3rd author” triggered by their collaboration.
Rachel Debuque and Justin Plakas, PLUKUQUE 1, Paper, paint, ink, gold leaf, and plastic, 21.5 x17 in. 2015
Jennifer Coates and David Humphrey’s Kitties has a level of transparency in terms of how it was made. Like Plakas and Dubuque the two artists collaborate regularly. In the case of Humphrey and Coates there seems to be a real sense of each other. It appears as if one artist provided the foundation and forms with the broad strokes of the brush while the other goes into details with a smaller brush. The painting is playful yet there is a tension that is captured in the expressions of the cats.
Jennifer Coates and David Humphrey, Kitties, acrylic on masonite, 36 x 36 in. 2006
The playful tension mentioned in Humphrey and Coates is echoed in Anna Gaskell and Douglas Gordon’s Documentation of Douglas Gaskel & Anna Gordon: MARCELLOUISE & LOUISEMARCEL. The two artists cut out the faces of Marcel Duchamp and Louise Bourgeois and placed them on the other’s body. According to the curator, this piece has been hidden inside of someone’s notebook and was not discovered until five years later. One can only imagine the response of the person who finds Marcel Duchamp’s serious face plastered on Louise Bourgeois’ body as she holds her penis sculpture while Bourgeois’ smiling face rests on Duchamp’s body as he contemplates at his desk. Both artists share a similar gesture.
Anna Gaskell and Douglas Gordon,
Documentation of Douglas Gaskel & Anna Goron: MARCELLOUISE & LOUISEMARCEL,
Print on paper, Edition of 100, unframed, 22.5 x 30 in, 2015
There is a really lovely relationship between not only Gaskell and Gordon’s collaboration but also with EVA & ADELLE’s Where ever we are is museum. Here we have a couple that has maintained an ongoing narrative of two artists becoming a living artwork from the future. Where as Gaskell and Gordon switch the identities and the sexes of two iconic figures, EVA & ADELLE are making a new sex. Their unique practice offers something that is exceptionally different from working alone.
EVA & ADELE, Where ever we are is museum, archival inkjet print, 16 x 16 in, May 11th, 2015. Photo Credit: Marina Lutz
The collaboration between Sheila Pepe and Carrie Moyer offers a seamless synthesis of both individual practices. The surface and structure in their collaborative painting is reminiscent of Pepe’s installations that incorporate the use of many kinds of materials and readymades. In this case the surface is a towel wrapped over a shaped piece of wood. The thoughtful and playful use of color appears to come from Carrie Moyer’s extensive painting and printmaking practice. The collaboration between these two artists results in a beautiful painting that unites the two artists while preserving their individual presence.
Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe, Untitled, towel, paint and wood, 17.5 x 12.5 in
Jonathan Allmaier and Maria Walker have very specific material narratives when it comes to painting. In her own work, Walker offers the many ways a painting can be presented. A stretcher is no longer just a stretcher, and fabric takes on a new form. Every part of the painting is activated. Walker offers many possibilities for what painting can be. Her paintings are immediate at first, but then unravel at a slower pace as if they are marinating. Allmaier’s paintings have multiple approaches to how they are actualized. They are categorized by how they are started and completed, whether the painting indicates a space or an object, if it is descriptive or not. In 2014 Allmaier showed these multiple modes to painting in Bump Paintings and Key Key Paintings shown at two James Fuentes locations a block away from each other. The result was an interesting tension between how the two bodies of works are connected and how they simultaneously stand apart. This collaboration between Walker and Allmaier takes the form of a Haiku. On one hand, the poem is completely different from both of the artist’s practice, it feels casual and endearing in its description of an everyday moment. But with more time spent contemplating the crumpled piece of paper I can’t help but make connections to both artists.
Maria Walker and Jonathan Allmaier, Haiku, pen on paper, 4.5 x 4.5 in, 2014
Nyeema Morgan and Mike Cloud both make work that incorporates text. At first glance their Interrogating Fiction:Popular Ideology vinyl banner seems more aligned with Morgan’s practice where text seems like a more significant part. Cloud’s structural paintings have a very physical presence and again it was difficult to see his contribution to the collaboration. Then after some time I realized that the scale of the banner and the way that the imagery is composed may be his influence. It is very interesting to notice a phantom physicality in a work using digital imagery. I then think that the writing on the banner was something that Morgan and Cloud came to together. All of the sudden I have a strong feeling that Morgan and Cloud’s collaborative work is a strong influence on their individual approach to making.
Nyeema Morgan and Mike Cloud, Interrogating Fiction: Popular Ideology, Vinyl banner, 42 x 96 in.
Collaboration offers another form of thinking and making. Whether it is responding to a mark by another person or brainstorming with a group, there is a consistent trajectory in an artist’s growth as a maker. Collaboration offers something outside of that, another level of fluency. Our individual ideas and actions can influence the result of a collaboration. Engaging in a collaborative practice may be an interesting influence on the work we make in solitude.
Eleanna Anagnos curated Love Child in a way that is specific yet intuitive, and playful yet dead serious. Her decision to show Allmaier and Walker’s poem as it is hung on their refrigerator is a casual gesture, but it feels crucial. As a curator, Anagnos’ choice not to hang anything on a wall in order to create a visual pause between the two paintings by Pepe and Moyer feels off, yet it makes total sense. The show is composed by one curator yet it embodies the essence of collaboration.
Love Child includes work by EVA & ADELLE photo by Marina Lutz, Anna Gaskell and Douglas Gordon, Nyeema Gordon and Mike Cloud, Rachel Dubuque and Justin Plakas, Maria Walker and Jonathan Allmaier, Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe, and Jennifer Coates and David Humphrey.
The show runs through Sunday, July 26th, 2015. Open Saturdays & Sundays, 1-6pm, and by appointment at Ortega y Gasset Projects 363 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.
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