Contrary to the most commonly acknowledged model of artistic practice — the singular, solitary genius — some form of collaboration is inherent to every artwork, even if the viewer is not made aware of this creative exchange. Organized by guest curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, who are themselves a collaborative curatorial duo, I Put a Spell On You surveys 11 distinct models of collective practice, highlighting the complex, coauthored process of artistic production.
Often, artistic collaboration is founded on a personal relationship. Some artists are partners in life as well as in work, like Eva & Adele, who met as art students and whose life as a couple has become a holistic artistic project of its own. Artists like Harry Shunk and János Kender photographed other artists, including husband-and-wife collaborators Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Even when a personal relationship has ended, artists may decide to continue their collaborative practice, like Elmgreen & Dragset.
An affinity for another artist’s work might also commence a collaboration. Inspired by the photography of Roy DeCarava, Kahlil Joseph’s Black Mary is a project with singer Alice Smith, featuring her rendition of the “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins’ song “I Put a Spell On You” — from which the exhibition takes its title — that has inspired countless covers, each in its own way itself a collaboration.
Artists also collaborate within larger artistic collectives. Hesham Rahmanian and brothers Rokni and Ramin Haerizadeh began their artistic collaboration while in exile in Dubai, after leaving their Iranian homeland. The collective GCC comprises artists around the world who share strong ties to the Arabian Gulf region. Artists and artist collectives also collaborate with specific community or social groups, such as the filmmaker duo Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, who capture street performances by dance groups in their film Swinguerra.
Some artists collaborate only on specific projects or under certain circumstances, as in the two Cadavres Exquis on view in the exhibition, which feature individual drawings by various Surrealists from the 1920s and the 1930s — the result of collective-subconscious games like Exquisite Corps. Many other artists create works through smaller and less formal artist exchanges or simply by discussing their ideas with friends.
In addition to their diverse methods of practice, some of the exhibiting artists also chose different strategies to formally credit their collaborations. Nadia Kaabi-Linke has been closely collaborating with her husband Timo throughout her artistic practice, but they have chosen to be credited under her name only. Bianca Kennedy and Felix Krauss, who are a couple in their private lives and collaborate indiscriminately in the creation of their works, maintain independent artistic practices. The moniker Reena Spaulings alleges to be a single artist but is in fact an artistic collaboration between two artists, Emily Sundblad and John Kelsey, who run an art gallery in New York under the same name, representing yet a different group of artists.
Presented within the context of the SCAD Museum of Art and its student and community audiences, I Put a Spell On You amplifies the importance of learning from one another and highlights the innovation of collaboration and the strength that lies in mutual support.
I Put a Spell On You: On Artist Collaborations is organized by guest curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath.