15 Bytes is in the process of preparing for our 2nd annual ColLABorART event, to be held at The Leonardo during the Utah Arts Festival. It’s a four-day artistic experiment in which we invite pairs of artists to meld their style on a large-scale work in front of the Arts Festival audience. And just like a meme once discovered seems suddenly to be ubiquitous, we look around us and find we’re not alone: collaboration is in the air.
This month CUAC opened a show by a collaborative group that operates under the name Oyster Pirates. Artists under that moniker have traveled around the world making art together in pairs, trios, quartets and even what seems like small orchestras. A previous incarnation, consisting of artists from San Francisco, Salt Lake and Berlin, raided the Kayo Gallery in 2009. This year the CUAC exhibit features a band of locals — Sri Whipple, Christian Michael, tikunkit, Michael Page, Martin Stensas, Dan Lloyd, Bradford Overton, Portia Snow, Jason Jones, Steve Larsen, Ben Weimeyer, Carolyn Pryor, and Michael Bernard — thirteen artists wielding a variety of stylistic weaponry. In these heavily-layered paintings you might find abstract textures from one artist, hyper-real figurative elements from another and graffiti or street-inspired techniques from a third.
This month’s featured In Memoriam artist, Hagen Haltern, worked heavily on a collaborative project in the last years of his life. When BFA student Jared Harlow approached him in 2002, asking for help with his BFA final project, professor Haltern agreed, as long as Harlow would help him assemble some compositional ideas in Photoshop. Twelve years later the pair were still collaborating on the Visionism project when Haltern passed away this year.
And, as we mentioned in our page 2 photo essay, this month The Lab @ The Leo unveiled the newest incarnation of The Call Box. The Call Box is a 1937 cast iron British phone box originally from Wales that was purchased from an antique shop in downtown Salt Lake by a group of local artists. Covered in a patina of rust, the box became a collaborative art project and when The Leonardo opened in 2011 greeted visitors in the entryway with work by more than a dozen artists inserted into the box’s negative spaces. Now, you’ll find it in the Art Lab, where over 20 artists have created pieces for Mind In SideOut. The work in this phase includes a choreographed piece by Stephen Brown filmed by Al Johnstone; a screen for display of this and a film loop of productions from Spy Hop, music composed for the box by Skellum and 2-D and 3-D artworks representing different examples of creative works in: architecture, literature, fine art, mythology, mathematics, film, music, dance, humor/satire, garden, journalism, photography, transport, re-cycling.
Collaboration isn’t restricted to the visual arts. In fact, it’s probably more natural in the performing arts, where the participation of others is almost mandatory for a finished project. Artforms like dance, theatre or music get interesting, then, when they collaborate across disciplinary lines. For instance, the final performances of Ririe-Woodbury’s season feature video components in each dance (see our review here). In fact, the final piece, Doug Varone’s “State’s Rendered,” features a video backdrop created by Ellen Bromberg, a distinguished Professor of Modern Dance at the University of Utah and founding director of the first Graduate Certificate in Screendance. That component will accompany the piece when Varone sets it on his own, larger, company.
When former Ririe-Woodbury artist director Charlotte Boye-Christensen left the company last year to from her own project, NOW ID, she promised performances that would pull in collaborations from composers, writers, artists and designers. The company delivers on that promise with this year’s Feast, a performance that takes place at Saltair on May 24 and in addition to dance, features performances by Salt Lake City-based actors Andra Harboldt and Robert Scott Smith and Danish composer and musician Jesper Egelund Pedersen (more on this collaboration and the performance in our June edition).
If you’re a fan of performance and collaboration, you’ll have to make a difficult decision on the 24th, because on that same night, Dance Theatre Coalition presents its own one-night event: KINEMATIC SUITE 5, a live music & new media performance featuring VCR5 and Justin Chouinard. Joe Greathouse, whose stage name VCR5 references his obsession with VCR decks and VHS tapes, mixes multiple audio tracks from videotapes to create a live cyber-punk music performance. He joins forces with Justin Chouinard, a film grad from the State University of New York who works at the U’s Film & Media Arts Department and who makes art with camera-less film, animation, video sound and performance. Their live performance promises to be “partly composed, fractionallyimprovised, completely sensory exploitative and absolutely not recurrent.” Check out a sample below.