First makers [ins hyperlink – ‘GS2” and list ‘em]
Seminar leader Alan W. Moore [ins URL to me]
It’s late January of 2008, and the instructor likes the way this graduate seminar is going. It will not result in a fine-grained work product. It will be rough, uneven and patchy, showing the bricks and mortar of many hands. But if it can result in a sound open work, a work that is readily improvable by subsequent students of artists’ collectivity, our job will have been well done. Anonymous minds and hands of the future, Collectiva is for you. Use it and grow it.
Of course we move into our consideration of artists’ collectivity informed primarily by what is happening now. We leaven our present-mindedness by a collective reading of the past – through the lens of Donald Drew Egbert’s monumental book on the intersections of art and social radicalism from the 18th century revolutions to 1968. And we have recent scholarship to hang our looks at postmodern collectivity upon. But this Collectiva is begun at a particular moment, the year of the dying fall of the reactionary Icarus G.W. Bush, and a time when the momentum of the most explicitly political collectives seems to have subsided. The slogan “we have won” is heard, as if handicapping the meetings of the WTO through demonstrations had led to inconclusiveness and paralysis in that most prominent engine of hypercapitalism. (Others have spoken of failure and inefficacy.) Now a period of study, reflection, and reorganization seems to be underway among collectively minded progressives in the cultural sphere. Earlier collective formations seem to be melting into the fog…
It is also a moment when the artists’ collective has made a decisive entry into the main arenas of U.S. and international art exhibitions, not as a political actor to be sure, but as a form of authorship, often as a quasi-corporate entity, or a simulator of radicality. As Debord would have it (“On Construction...,” 1957 URL), this is a sure sign of the political efficacy of artistic collectives, that they must be acknowledged and suborned by the bourgeois artworld. In our moment the novelty of recent collectivity has worn off. It is a form of association, useful, contingent, general, and increasingly non-ideological. It is a good time to work on definitions. So we begin this year with some descriptions…