6 MIN 25 SEC SINGLE CHANNEL PROJECTION with sound
Exhausted Nature commissioned by Conical, Melbourne, 2008.
Collaborations are strange beasts. Two independent people, with independent practices, come together to shape a common idea, with a unified will to participate in a shared process that encapsulates the essence of their own individual workings and separate outputs. And through this process they desire to create collectively something wholly new, wholly unique, that could not have been produced without the involvement of the two together.
Frequently, these collaborations focus on the process itself. How the two came together; when the two first started talking, and then perhaps tentatively put a toe – or two – into the water of negotiation and collaboration; working out a methodology for action, a process of constructive debate, suggestion of ideas; and the final and practical realisation of a process culminating in the completed work. Often, the process is analysed, discussed, and dissected to the point of total exhaustion, and beyond. Is it toX easy to place too much emphasis on this part of the project? Is there a point of clarity, of purity, and distillation that is arrived at through the process of critical mutual examination, which would not be reached without this intense scrutiny? Or can the talking overwhelm the finished work? And what, if any, does the impact of this process have on the final exhibition and its ongoing evolution? How much is all of this reflected in the work?
I reflect on these topics as we wait in anticipation for the 16th Sydney Biennale, curated this year by Artistic Director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev under the banner Revolutions – Forms that Turn. Christov-Bakargiev suggests that, as with many things, this Biennale is about changing perspectives, turning things on their head, seeing things from a different point of view. In the societies worldwide and the times in which we now live, this is not always so easy to do. Media, time, place and technology all conspire with speed, offering us bite-size comestibles on a plate, ensuring that a subject’s complexity is unlikely to be appreciated in the limited time that it is flashed before our eyes. So, she suggests, you have to de-functionalise the object as an aesthetic strategy, removing the use value of something to help us see it afresh, allowing new avenues and new possibilities to appear.
This, I feel, is at the nub of the collaborative process and outcome of Susan Jacobs and Andrew Hazewinkel. This project is revolutionary in a personal sense as well as the phenomenological sense. Many believe that change – particularly political change - can only occur at the meeting point of psychoanalysis, the psychology of perception, and public politics – where the “personal becomes political”. If this is true, then it is necessary to look first at the personal and singular to understand the shifts of broader change. Central to this endeavour are issues of phenomenology - the structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view – the body moving in space, and the construction of form and experience through movement. The evolution of a process, and the final elements of a work both require displaced perception, and therefore, change – or revolution.