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Aleksander Skidan David Riff Dmitry Vilensky

Answers to Questions Posed by WHW in Collective Creativity Exhibition Catalogue

Published in the catalogue “Collective Creativity”, Kunsthallle Friedericianum, Kassel

1. What example of artistic collaborative practice (recent or historical) is the most important for your work?

Not one but many examples, because the history of contemporary art in Russia is unthinkable without communities and artist-circles, utopias of friendship, creative collectives, autodidactic circles, institutionalizations of friendship. Among the most important for us: Arefjev Group in Petersburg, Collective Actions in Moscow. But there are many more that have formed our experience of artistic collaboration and exchange. Not all of them engaged in collaborative practice, many of them totally disengaged, embarking on singular or multiple metaphysical explorations from the confines of the kitchen, performed for an intimate audience of friends. To rethink this tradition, you have to look to other sources, where collective creativity is more prominent: the experience of the Russian LEF (Left Front of Artists) or those of the Situationist International or Fluxus. The Situationists are probably most important as a trigger for rethinking the somewhat hermetic Russian experience of community as becoming a point of contact with the public sphere and the world at large.

2.    Which collaborative act / event / gesture / movement (recent or historical or both) – as a mode of operating in the world as such is the most important for you?

The concept of multitude by Negri and Hardt, understood as a multiplicity of singularities, drawn together by a common teleology. The appearance of this concept is capable of redefining many of the more isolate community-experiences of the past. It’s important because it supplies a model and an impulse for solidarity, expressed through networking out to other groups and maintaining dialogue with them, even if their “personal ontology” is different from your own.

3.    Why do you work in a group / collaborate?

The urge to “getting together” reveals a fundamental principal of establishing a tight social connections that allows to reach a situation in which inevitable difference becomes productive, and development of collective subjectivity becomes a venue for the free and creative development of every one. (Dmitry)

Art as collective practice could be something that can actually change something in life. The community came about because we wanted to move the boundary of art, so one has to call up new people… (Glucklya)

The discourse of power and its media-language – centered around the myth of individual success – strives to represent any creative achievement as the result of a unique career, often masking or ignoring the entire living fabric of collective relationships, conflicts, affects, solidarities, and mutual assistances that went into the production of its particular reality. “Alienation”, in its most elemental way, takes place when a thing or a person is torn from this living fabric, ascribed with a surplus-value and reterritorialized. The modernist-socialist paradigm of “collective creativity”, in contrast, was always formulated as something through which the subject had to get rid of his-her fetishized individuality for the sake of the common, emacipated labour, standing in stark contrast to the melancholic corporate workaday. (David)

Only in a collective, do you get a feeling of producing common counter-knowledge. This knowledge – which is power – does not have necessary to be connected with a “real product”; instead, it’s all about producing social and personal relations that aren’t alienated. (Dmitry)

This is why the community can become a kind of laboratory, a synchrophasotron in which we help ourselves to accelerate ourselves, using provocations to accelerate ourselves to the state of some critical mass, which can call our own experience into question, our own earlier achievements, in order to move on, keeping our ears and eyes open. (Alexander)

4. Which books/publications on collective work/collectives/collectivity would you consider as basic or relevant for your work or in general? Please name up to three titles giving us author, title, year and place of publishing.

Nikolay Chernyshevsky, “Chto delat?/What is to be done?” (we do not have English data of publication)

Walter Benjamin, “Autor als Produzent”, “Theses on the Concept of History” ( sorry we also do not have English data of this publication)

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