By STEVE AISHMAN
Editor's Note: This installment of Steve Aishman's "Report From The Phantom Zone" may have been written in collaboration with his wife and long-time Big RED contributor, Heidi Marston Aishman.
"It's amazing how much you can get done when you don't care who gets the credit."-- Richard Hettrick
What does it mean to collaborate in the art world today? When does it matter who did what? At what point is the gallery part of the collaboration by hanging the work in their space? Is Big RED a collaborator by promoting the arts?
Yesterday I edited a video piece for a friend who didn’t have the time. Today I asked someone to write a press release for me. Tomorrow I am hanging an exhibition for another artist who may or may not be able to be there. Collaboration happens, whether you know it or not. Every time you ask someone if they have an extra sheet of paper for you to write down an idea, that person has collaborated in the actualization of that idea. Then you make a new piece of artwork from that idea and you have to ask someone to photograph it so that you can get it into a gallery. The gallery accepts the piece, they hang it on the wall and then someone writes about it and Big Red publishes it. Now how many people are involved in the world seeing your piece? Do you care?
If you deny all of those who are involved in the making, promoting and exhibiting of your work, you are denying the energy they have infused into it. My husband asked me to “help” him write his column for Big Red this week. At some point he left, and he was gone for a good 6 hours. At this point, for this week, it’s my column. People may think he wrote it, but sometimes you just can’t care who gets the credit when you have to get something done.
When groups like the Miracle5, (who work collaboratively on each exhibition they have), are asked “Who did what?” they don’t start pointing at pieces saying, “oh I did that piece and she did that one”, because that would take the energy out of it. The Miracle 5 is a wacky superhero-themed collective which formed a couple years back and has shown in galleries all over Boston and each time it is a new and exciting experience. The mystery is part of the fun, part of what makes it interesting and what makes it collaboration.
When you start thinking about it, someone else is always involved in what we make; the guy on EBay who just happens to be selling that set of dear antlers you needed, the friend who decide today was the day they were going to throw out that spool of wire you were coveting, or your husband who decided today is the day he is going to ditch you, and trick you into writing his article for him.
Collaboration is an opportunity: an opportunity to tap into the ideas, talents, and energies of others and a chance to share in someone’s success. If you are looking that kind of chance to collaborate, artist Brian Burkhardt has the venue. Burkhardt is putting together the third Word of Mouth exhibition. The exhibition is open to all and will be in Miami during the Basel Art Fair. Word of Mouth is designed to help artists get an art fair on their resume. Take a chance, don’t half –ass it, just make a piece you want shown and send it in. Here is the link. Maybe just by mentioning it in this article someone will participate and in that case I will have collaborated in that person’s artwork being seen. The opportunities are out there if you are willing to share the credit, and sometimes let go of it completely.
However, sometimes collaboration doesn’t work out to everyone’s benefit. I am pretty sure that Steve received (and accepted) all the praise for last years Thanksgiving dinner that I made. Chopping carrots alone does not make it a collaborative effort!
All images are courtesy of the artists.