“I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space…”
I love manifestos. They are a very useful tool for collaboration – in fact, Tenneson and Dale write one for each piece of work we make. As far as this collaboration is concerned, the manifesto has a practical purpose, as it forces us to consolidate our ideas in a coherent fashion, and, as we don’t necessarily meet on a regular basis, it becomes a useful marker of where we want to get to. The act of writing down what our project will be in a pre-determined format makes sure that we consider the work from every angle. (I had an MA tutor who was very fond of telling me that “Writing is thinking” and I’ve added that rule to my many others.) T&D’s manifesto writing purposely matches the pre-determined nature of the work we make, “We do not impose the order, the order is imposed on us” is what we have concluded and so we have made many manifestos (and subsequent artworks) about the rules at large that bind us. We have chosen to fight rules sarcastically… with rules.
When working in a solo capacity, rules don’t necessarily need to be stated, or perhaps even considered, as they will inherently be part of your own working method. It might well go without saying that you will always make sculpture because that is what you made a decision to do a long time ago and that is now your area of expertise BUT because collaboration opens up distinctly new possibilities, your usual unquestioned focus (which seems natural) might need shifting, or even re-thinking altogether.
Although it seems counter-intuitive, what fascinates me about making rules is that they force you to become more creative. What is even better about this when specifically applied to the creation of artworks is that, unlike other creative fields, such as design, you don’t have the pressure of finding the useful, correct or sensible solution. When Cherry and I grind together our chosen ingredients of politics, minimalism and signage, we have no-one to answer to other than ourselves and so we are therefore free to do what we please, safe in the knowledge that our manifesto backs it all up. The manifestos are a point of departure and not restrictive – were we to have no rules at all, we would most likely be paralysed by possibility and stop working altogether.