I have collaborated with many people over the years – some more successfuly than others. Some on my side of the table and some on the other. The experience has ranged from the perfunctory, task oriented pooling of knowledge and thought, to a sparky fusion of creative inspiration.
Those that have worked best have been a balance between mutual esteem and creative criticism – “why do you do it like that?”
The context of the collaboration makes a difference though; a short term relationship gives much greater focus, becuase the goal is always near at hand. Longer term, there is always a greater emphasis on relationship. Gender has some bearing – male competitivity; female territoriality – but much less than it might have been. More relevant is baggage carried over from previous experience and its tendency to close the mind to options that might be obvious to others; we’re all guilty of that.
At its best working collaboratively is a way of seeing a creative situation beyond the self, so that the factors that bring that situation into being – the artwork or ‘place’ made – are more likely to become the formative factors rather than a more wilful personal preference.
Collaboration of this kind also embodies the interface between art and architecture – architects bound by the programme for a building, allowing function and structure to dictate the nature of the ‘situation’ and artists seeing everything in terms of their god-given vision. These different approaches have, though, given rise to a false dichotomy artist vs. architect. Ultimately, though, the ‘situation’ being considered is created by the intention of the idividuals involved and not by what they call themsleves.
I have had a long term (12 years) collaboration with Pandora Vaughan where these fine balances have seen ebbs and flows, a surge in confidence at one stage, but at another the little prickles of indignation of perceived insensitivities. It is, though, all enveloped in the confidence of a long term relationship where there is a ‘greater good’ – undefined but nevertheless real – that acts as a ‘gold standard’ for our creative endeavours – which is priceless.