tandem

Similar to how two individuals pedal in unison towards a shared destination on a tandem bicycle, the decision for one to work alongside another is both an adventurous undertaking and uncertain experiment into how two separate entities with contrasting histories and expertise can unite for the sake of art as a response to our era. Or: “what is the relationship of a work of art to the relationships of production of the time?”1 Sharing the same vehicle-as-art, artist (or artist group) and curator simultaneously progress—yet their perspectives are bound to differ. Even though the same road is viewed, their paths leading up to that moment prove disparate.

The structure is simple: one American curator (Jacquelyn Davis) + one artist / artist group residing in either the United States and/or Scandinavia = the production of a newly constructed artistic project which both parties agree to co-design and execute. No project design will mimic another; each Tandem project vouches to adopt a diverse approach unlike those preceding. Riding tandem is essentially risky, oftentimes forcing riders to weigh gains vs. losses. Yet, a few scuffed knees are worth it if the overall journey is distinctive. Tandem is built upon mutual trust, desire (“Desire begins to take shape in the margin in which demand becomes separated from need: this margin that which is opened up by demand”2) and a DIY approach; the process begins either with a proposal from the curator to the artist / artist group, or vice versa.

Tandem harbors the following ambitions:
» to create a model uninfluenced by any larger ‘institution,’ encouraging participants to accept responsibility for the artistic outcome and distribution.
» to focus on group relations and the necessity to work collectively as an alternative to authoritarian and regressive influences of any governing body.
» to provide and question the self-sustaining unit of creative exchange on a micro-level geared towards genuine interaction and solidarity.
» to investigate artistic production as a relational device, mechanism for provocation and tool for exploring individual vs. collective encounters.
» to continue the current investigation into ‘site specificity’ from a cross-cultural stance.
» to expand the definitions of ‘authorship’ and ‘identity’ in relationship to each work.
» to actualize Tandem as an incubator and archive for variegated methodologies.

Practicing art serves to be a critique and closer examination of the ways in which others view the assumed lexicons of ‘community,’ ‘collaboration’ and ‘artistic production.’ How many individuals are needed for an artistic community to exist—and thrive? What constitutes useful collaboration? Must a collaboration be deemed useful, and by whom? Is each collaboration a means to an end—the end being a final product (or products) or outcome, whether it be encapsulated or an ongoing affair? What does a given audience expect and why?

Tandem Artists
currently under development
» Nicola Bergström Hansen (Stockholm, Sweden)
» Jonas Gazell (Umeå, Sweden)

valeveil is currently accepting submissions for this project.*

* Note: For the sake of efficiency, no more than three Tandem projects are under development at any given time.

Relevant Quotes

Contemporary art discourse still lacks a substantive account of the historical and theoretical ‘grounds’ of site specificity. Consequently, the framework within which we might discuss the artistic merit and / or political efficacy of the various formulations of site specificity, old and new, remains inconclusive … the very term ‘site specificity’ has become a site of struggle, where competing positions concerning the nature of the site, as well as the ‘proper’ relationship of art and artists to it, are being contested.3

We live today in the age of partial objects, bricks that have been shattered to bits, and leftovers. We no longer believe in the myth of the existence of fragments that, like pieces of an antique statue, are merely waiting for the last one to be turned up, so that they may all be glued back together to create a unity that is precisely the same as the original unity. We no longer believe in a primordial totality that once existed, or a final totality that awaits us at some future date. We no longer believe in the dull grey outlines of a dreary, colorless dialectic of evolution, aimed at forming a harmonious whole out of heterogeneous bits by rounding off their rough edges. We believe only in totalities that are peripheral. And if we discover such a totality alongside various separate parts, it is a whole of these particular parts but does not totalize them; it is a unity of all of these particular parts but does not unify them; rather, it is added to them as a new part fabricated separately.4

An identity is established in relation to a series of differences that have become socially recognized. These differences are essential to its being. If they did not coexist as differences, it would not exist in distinctness and solidity. Entrenched in this indispensable relation is a second set of tendencies, themselves in need of exploration, to congeal established identities into fixed forms, thought and lived as if their structure expressed the true order of things. When these pressures prevail, the maintenance of one identity (or field of identities) involves the conversion of some differences into otherness, into evil, or one of its numerous surrogates. Identity requires difference in order to be, and it converts difference into otherness in order to secure its own self-certainty.5

An exhibition is a privileged place where instant communities like this can be established: depending on the degree of audience participation demanded by the artist, the nature of the works on show and the models of sociability that are represented and suggested, an exhibition can generate a particular ‘domain of exchanges’ on the basis of aesthetic criteria, or in other words by analyzing the coherence of its form, and then the symbolic value of the ‘world’ it offers us or the image of human relations that it reflects. Within this social interstice, the artist owes it to himself to take responsibility for the symbolic models he is showing: all representation refers to values that can be transposed into society (though contemporary art does not so much represent as model) and inserts itself into the social fabric rather than taking inspiration from it.6

Power is always, as we would say, a power potential and not an unchangeable, measurable, and reliable entity like force or strength. While strength is the natural quality of an individual seen in isolation, power springs up between men when they act together and vanishes the moment they disperse. Because of this peculiarity, which power shares with all potentialities that can only be actualized but never fully materialized, power is to an astonishing degree independent of material factors, either of numbers or means.7

1. Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer” in New Left Review (Issue 62, July-August, 1970), 2.
2. Jacques Lacan, Ecrits : A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York : W. W. Norton, 1977), 311.
3. Miwon Kwon, One Place After Another : Site Specific Art and Locational Identity (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2002), 2.
4. Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (Minneapolis, MN : University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 42.
5. William E. Connolly, Identity | Difference : Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox (Minneapolis, MN : University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 64.
6. Nicolas Bourriaud, “Relational Aesthetics” (1998), in Participation: Documents of Contemporary Art (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2006), 162.
7. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago, IL : The University of Chicago Press, 1958), 200.