Greater Together presents eight artist projects that complicate individual notions of authorship to focus on ideas of collaboration and cooperation as a means of agency and solidarity in a complex and changing world.
While acknowledging the inherent challenges of working together, and the often-utopian ideals of collectivity, the exhibition explores various models of artistic collaboration (from conscious, pragmatic decisions to divide skills and labour, to the natural result of long-term friendships, romantic partnerships or family ties) to consider broader ideas of community, communication and cooperation both in the discipline of art and in the wider, global, networked world.
Goldin+Senneby is a framework for collaboration set up by Swedish artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby. For Greater Together, the artists have relocated a full-scale, mature oak tree into the gallery, creating a setting in which unfolds a poignant tale of a drycleaner who dreams of getting hired in the position of a gallery attendant. In addition, the artists are working with local fashion designer Annie Wu to create a uniform for gallery staff fabricated entirely out of clothes left behind at the dry cleaners.
Inspired in part by a freak meteorological dust storm that hit Melbourne in 1983, internationally renowned Dutch artistic collaborators and partners Bik Van der Pol will create a major new installation bringing together a number of voices in reference to the characters of Platos philosophical text Symposium, as a means to consider collective responses to the challenge of climate change.
Field Theory, a collective of Australian artists, educators and producers convert ACCA into a survivalist storeroom as they examine the specific skillsets of various niche clubs and communities around Melbourne, and how these skills could be used to complement one another in the event of an apocalypse. Club members will host a series of workshops within the exhibition every second weekend for the duration of the exhibition.
The exhibition takes place in a period of uncertainty, when societal divisions (political, environmental, cultural and geographic) are creating a need for all of us to share knowledge and resources and reassess ideas of production and organisation, says exhibition curator Annika Kristensen.
In Greater Together, artists challenge conventional methods of working to explore ways in which services and skills can be shared, and networks and relationships can be created across distance, difference and time to achieve different, perhaps better outcomes, into the future.
A ninth project WORK/SHOP, developed by Laura Couttie, engages four artist practitioners and collaborators who have developed conceptual retail projects for the ACCA bookshop as a physical and metaphorical extension of the exhibition. WORK/SHOP will draw out themes from the exhibition, exploring alternative modes of authorship, production and labour, the concept of art practice as commodified work, and the retail space as a site of exchange.
Greater Together: Bik Van der Pol, Clark Beaumont, Courtney Coombs and Antoinette J. Citizen, Céline Condorelli, Field Theory, Goldin+Senneby, C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska, Patrick Staff.
The exhibition is on view through 17 September, 2017 at The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art