By The Dare-To! Collective: Angela Mullins, Deborah Phillips, Liz Smith, Viviane Smith, Kim Walker
Catalyst is the underlying concept of our recent Twelve-weeks CHAIN REACTIONS PROJECT, which focused on an evolving collaborative artwork allowing all contributors the freedom to reinterpret and re-create the same piece from a different perspective. It was also an opportunity to defy the situation and to make and exchange a physical object during this real-experience-starved pandemic time.
Our process followed the principles of a game of consequences: an initial piece was developed and parcelled up together with a related word or phrase, and then sent via postal service to another member who would, in turn, review the content of the parcel, then consider the original work and each subsequent re-work as sparks igniting creative ideas. They would send the artwork to another team member. Each team member had ten days to complete their task. Before and after photographs were taken by each participant to document the process entirely. All types of alteration were allowed, including adding/removing/cutting/changing elements. As the process was set in motion, the work was transformed by our approaches, passing through time and geographic place to acquire a new identity and achieve spatial and temporal meaning. We all eagerly awaited the result: a dramatical revision of the artwork transposed from painted objects through sculpture, art-photography to video and had taken on a life of its own.
We purposefully did not exchange any information during the making phase of the project to avoid cross-contamination of ideas. We wrote a word - or an expression - on a piece of paper that summarised our take on the produced work. The piece of paper was included in the parcel. Our artwork's meaning underwent a transformative journey going from 'cultural change' to 'ascension', moving on to 'sensation', then 'direction' and finishing with 'catalyst'.
This unique experience was inspiring, ludic and felt like a breath of fresh air in our imposed isolation. Not only did the experience proved enlightening, but it also demonstrated the creative benefits and enrichment of working collaboratively. The project was testament and proof of art as a catalyst for change, that making art, especially during these uncertain times, is a positive and energising force and that the most extraordinary thing comes from change.
Our project implicitly addressed two crucial and often-afflicting elements of the creative process: artists' resistance to change and the renunciation of control. Acknowledging destruction is a natural part of the creative cycle. It was also a reminder that we are essentially the makers and not owners of our art, and the best artworks generally exist outside and beyond ourselves.
The experience was inspiring, motivating and ludic at both a collective and personal level and has sparked ideas for future projects.