Thursday, February 26, 2009

Collective Practices

I decided it would be nice to interview our very own local photo collective, From Here to There in the wake of Rob Haggart's post on their rise. I myself participate in an online collective where we have a monthly assignment to get us thinking in new ways, but which is not nearly as ambitious as what these guys are up to. Andy Adams graciously gave me a virtual introduction to Gilda Davidian, who was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

How did From Here to There come about? What was the impetus for starting the collective. Who decides on members?

Here is how the collective started: A little over a year ago, I started reconnecting with friends from my undergrad program and kept on hearing the same thing from everyone - how they wanted to meet, talk about projects, be inspired and make work. It had been about a few years since everyone had graduated and everyone seemed to be looking for the community and support-system that was available to us in school. I started emailing a few people I knew were interested and a handful of us decided to meet one Sunday afternoon last January for an informal crit/discussion. And that's how things started.

The impetus was to have a committed group of people who wanted to get together and talk about photography and art and have a group to critique and show with.

The membership process was very organic. We started off with 6 or 7 interested individuals and added a few more people who heard about the group and wanted to be part of it. Most of us are photographers but we all work in varied mediums and have different strengths and abilities we bring to the collective. We decided in December to not accept any new members but have visiting artists on a project to project basis.

So is there any type of similarity between the work of the members? In other words, do you feel there's a theme or aesthetic running across the work of the photographers in the collective, or is it more about just a group of people who are dedicated and interested in photography? You said it was organic, so I imagine it's the latter? Can you tell me more about these projects and what they entail and maybe detail the last/most current one?

I can't say that there is an obvious similarity between the work of our members, and I would go as far to say our work is all pretty different. What connects is are the projects that we do, the themes that we work around, and our desire to keep working. The work we do with the collective is in conjunction to our individual practices and one of our aims is to strengthen our own work through this experience. I think it's important to note that not all of our members participate in every single project. People choose to opt out of projects for a variety of reasons.

The last project we did was called Rearrange. We were contacted by the owner of the Lawson-Fenning store in Silver Lake after he saw our installation in the empty lot at Sunset and Micheltorena back in September. He offered us his storefront window for a project. We decided we wanted to make work related to the space and the idea of furniture, transference, and the city. We ended up building an installation with found furniture. We collected furniture from all over the city, documented it where we found it, painted it all white and installed it in the space. At the center of the installation is a TV monitor displaying images of the furniture in its original state and location.

Here's a tidbit from the show's press release: "Our aim was to create a site-specific piece that examines the reuse of discarded furniture through rearrangement and re-appropriation. The inclusion of found furniture speaks to the social and communal exchange of household objects and also functions as mapping points to reference various parts of the city. The transformation of functionality was highlighted through the repainting of each piece and the restructuring involved in installation. Rearrange is an homage to the process of social and physical transference that occurs daily throughout the city."

This was a very important project for us because it was the first single project that we all contributed too together (as in, we did not each show one piece from our own portfolios). The piece is still up if you want to see.

Currently we are taking time off from group projects to concentrate on making work for an exhibition we have coming up in September at Synchronicity Gallery in East Hollywood. We picked a general theme for the show and are making work around that. We are starting critiques about the work and tracking what direction it will go in.

So one of the main benefits of the collective is to think outside your individual boxes and work on things or shoot in ways that you might not otherwise. Another I see is the greater ease in which you are able to sucure shows and get your work out there. What other benefits do you see in forming / being part of a collective? Have any other collectives done projects you've admired and might like to emulate?

I asked some of our members to respond to this one and here is what they said:

The major benefits of working collectively are for inspiration, exposure, experimentation, and support. The collective creates space for opportunities that we would not invest in by ourselves. It is a creative and economical method of making art that allows for greater opportunities. It's our way of avoiding over-classification and branching out into arenas that our individual practices wouldn't necessarily lead to.

Here is a quote from Alan Moore's essay, General Introduction to Collectivity in Modern Art, that mirrors our perspective:

“Art starts from groups. Collectivity is the basis for artistic production. Special forms of social relations are the soil in which artists are rooted. From this soil the flowers of art bloom, are cut, and carried to the vases in arrangements … they may be understood as emblems, as a language of flowers, speaking universally, as if to everyone, above and beyond their origins."

Thanks, Gilda!

From Here to There will be participating in the 100 show at Sugar and the East Hollywood ArtCycle this weekend.

100 Show:100 L.A. based artists showing 100 pieces of art for under 100 dollars.
Feb. 27 - March 24, 2009
Opening reception:Feb. 27, 20097 - 11 pm
DJ sets by:Bebe Deer / Katie Byron / Oonceoonce
Sugar3022 Sunset Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90026

Gilda is in a group exhibition called "Women Artists on Immigration" that opens at the Korean Cultural Center this Friday, Feb. 27 from 7 - 9 pm.

"Women Artists on Immigration examines social, political and cultural issues related to the dynamic topic of immigration. Each subtopic — Crossing Borders, Confronting Barriers, Bridging Identities — is amplified by the diverse perspectives of the contemporary works by the women artists in the show. Together, they inspire an ongoing conversation about our cultural, political and personal identities."


No comments: