While in Munich I spent some time with Helen discussing our collaboration intently and creating a solid plan that we could manage once we were back on opposite sides of the world. We also addressed a question about collaboration, that I had prior to this meeting, as it was integral to the decisions we made and what we would create.
The most important question that I put to Helen was about the combining of two practices that are more similar than contrasting, and where does this take us? I had been considering this a lot prior to our time together and had already come to a conclusion that making jewellery pieces that we both worked on was not the best way forward. I had looked at other artists that have done this, that work in the same medium and on the same piece of work, and discovered that one voice can easily become over ridden by the other, especially if one voice is stronger in terms of experience and aesthetics – but I still wanted to get an insight to Helen’s thoughts and found that we were on the same page. Initially, when researching and considering the idea of collaboration, I found that predominantly artists with practices that are complimentary work together and ascertained that this is what primarily brings collaborations together in the first place, not artists working in the same medium. Helen is experienced in collaboration and has been in partnership with Perth garment designer Justine McKnight and Perth photographer Michelle Taylor for a number of years. Helen generously gave me a copy of their publication, Awkward Beauty. It is a fantastic illustration of combined professional practices that makes a stronger and more interesting presentation that hybridizes their work and compliments one another’s practice without compromise.http://archived.form.net.au/industry-development/exhibitions/awkward-beauty
Considering this conversation and the similarities/differences between mine and Helen’s practice became a significant starting point as I also expressed my concern to Helen about the compromises we would both be making by creating a singular piece together. I had already found myself being questioned previously about whether I constructed the way I do, prior to being mentored by Helen in Handshake 2, or was I appropriating Helen’s structures. We concluded together that for me this questioning was going to be inevitable and to make a piece of jewellery together was too predictable and counterproductive for both of us.
We went on to consider the other similarities in our practice and how we could best work on something together, without compromising our individual practice, and decided that seeing we have both been playing recently with moving image that this would be something we could confidently work on together, simultaneously and separately all at once. To bring it back to being object makers and our individual materials, we would independently create a container each in the form of a ‘box-like-book’ to the same predetermined constraints. These will hold a film in each that use the same footage from us both but are constructed differently. The film work will be a metaphor for areas of our making process that are the same. The outcome will be an ambiguous, handbook like constructs about process. I am pleased with our progress as it addresses issues around collaboration within the same medium and how we can use it to our best advantage.
We later shared time together looking at digital hardware and components for our box-like-books that we bought together and would be the same for both of us.
Here is some exerts from my diary, that I send to Helen to update her about what I have done. I also send Helen short videos so she can get an a better idea of scale and how things work or look in the hand. We then Skype and plan any changes that have come about.