This summer, Marlborough is hosting the exhibition FEEDBACK, which explores the different steps, combinations and inspirations artists take, above and beyond the work they do alone in the studio, to complete a work. Whether it be in the form of collaboration, an artists’ collective, or simply public actions and interventions, the exhibition will showcase what can happen when an artist embraces chance, happenstance, and other deliberate ways of ceding control, and will celebrate the influences or accidents that wreak profound changes on the final form a work takes.
Collaboration in the traditional sense of the word can be described as two or more people working with – and sometimes against – each other until a common goal has been reached. But what if some or all of those people are unaware of the part they play in determining the final product? Does that disqualify the result from being a collaboration, properly so-called? What, after all, do we mean when we speak of such things? Collectives, for example, are notoriously short-lived, in their official form, anyway; but to what extent do they continue to influence the artist, long after the group has been disbanded? Is influence itself a form of collaboration? Participation art, where the audience is asked to engage with the work, has been around for many decades, but what happens if the audience refuses such engagement? Does that mean the work is incomplete? What of those profound and puzzling interventions where an outside force permanently alters the way a work is seen, leaving the original artist faced with the choice of either accepting this intrusion on their authority, or denouncing it? Does the work then reside in a kind of limbo, neither here nor there, alive or dead, neither yours or mine, ours or theirs, his or hers?
The hope is that this show raises these questions, and many more, but here, as elsewhere, the questions are more interesting than any answer could be. In the end, there is the suggestion that all artists are collaborators in one way or another, while leaving the ambiguity and ambivalence of being so unresolved.