Collaborate: to work with someone else for a special purpose1.
While my studio practice accumulates multiple themes of research and a broad range of concerns which inform my thinking and working, collaboration has become a connecting methodology. Expanding on the definition of collaboration, my research encompasses working with another or others, this process includes responsiveness, exchange and sharing. This may be one on one with me, it maybe in the form of reflection or a retrospective response based on a personal relationship I have with the other I chose to work with.
Working in collaboration can bring conflict and unique challenges, situations where my role as artist or facilitator is a position that shifts within the work. While remaining open and responsive to my collaborators, I have a role as author which is important for initiating projects, and resolving the work. Authorship is present in choices around how and what collaborators use to participate, what I chose to present as the finished work, or objects as artefacts relating to the process.
Thinking back, I consider again my thinking around collaboration as more encompassing than exchanges happening in real life, or face to face. Referring again to the work Nancy Spero did in re-enacting Ana Mendieta’s Body Tracks…
Joanna S. Walker discusses what I describe as a collaborative exchange between Ana Mendieta and Nancy Spero, where Spero re-enacts and re-traces a work she witnessed Mendieta performing2. The works, both Mendieta’s Body Tracks (Rasrtos Corporales) from 1982, and Spero’s responses to it in the 1990s, represent traces of the body. With I say a little prayer for you, I am working with images created as prints or drawings from the faces of my collaborators. The outcomes of my process are performance, or its residual artefacts, such as drawings, photographs and oral retellings of the events. What of these outcomes is representative of the nuanced and contradictory individual stories shared with me, and is the work interpreted as a display of collective experiences of women? My response to this challenge has been to present the self portraits as physically connected works, in a quilt or cloth books and sharing women’s sometimes contradictory reflections. This is an attempt to avoid reducing the work into a universal homogenous response and to draw attention to the stories which came from the process, these stories seem to be the heart of the work.
[1} ‘COLLABORATE | Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary’.
 Walker, Joanna S. ‘The Body Is Present Even If in Disguise: Tracing the Trace in the Artwork of Nancy Spero and Ana Mendieta’. Accessed 12 August 2018.https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/11/the-body-is-present-even-if-in-disguise-tracing-the-trace-in-the-artwork-of-nancy-spero-and-ana-mendieta.