Towards a Collaborative Approach

The fifth CREATurE Live Art, focused on collaboration, which happened in a short span of days in the mid-September 2016, was really something. We owe a massive thank you to all the participants of the festival – great artists and wonderful human beings. As well we owe one huge hug to our amazing team of volunteers – those hands that help make things happen.

This edition, as each in its own way, has taught us a lot about the art of giving, which is the basis of the collaborative approach. Yes, giving, as well as accepting the gifts, which is sometimes the more difficult of the two. And the biggest gift was that of the exchange between the artists participating and the attentive and present audience, that was sitting standing glancing from the outside in, aware and focused.

The interaction between the two persons on stage / in the gallery room / outdoors, through time, with materials, the exchange between the performers and the audience was of a very high intensity. Looking back at it, it’s no wonder that some of the audience were breaking into tears or laughter at any moment – that’s our mirror neurons at work.

What we questioned and tried to research in this edition and through the chosen concept has no real answer – a collaboration is an ongoing process of exchange and an ongoing investigation of boarders, tensions, intents of each involved in it. So there are several things we might call “outcomes” of what happened that one week in September, that we are extremely happy about and willing to share.

One of them is the Manifesto of Ethical Photography, a number of points about the collaboration between the photographer and the performance artist.

It’s been quite a while since the issue of the distortion of artist’s idea of the performance and it’s representation in the documentation of the work has been buggin’ us. Oftentimes the incongruence was due to the inconsistency between the work of the artist and the approach of the photographer. A performance of three hours cannot be documented by running into the room in the middle of actions and for merely five minutes. A performance cannot be documented by a person who is looking for an artsy shot which would become hers or his, that is, appropriated, instead of being representative of the work itself. A performance cannot be documented if the person documenting it is feeling an awkwardness watching the action. Of course, there are series of other issues, which we observed through the years in our personal practice and during CREATurE and other festivals, which, lastly, pushed us to try do something about it, at least for ourselves.

It seems that the workshop on the photography of the performance art, led by Manuel Vason, was the right time and space to address all of the aforementioned and more, and what the photoperformer and the group of photographers participating came up with, was this great Manifesto, which we gladly share with performance practitioners and photographers, in hope that it might lead to better documentation of the ephemeral. The image is important: once the here/now-ness of the performance piece is over, it is only the imprint in the heart/head of the performer and the audience, and this digital imprint that remains.

The text is written as an introduction to the performance photography exhibition in the public space (Laisvės ave, Kaunas, LT), featuring all performance artists that have participated in CLA2016, as documented by photographers that have participated in the workshop on performance photography. Full documentation of the performance pieces by workshop participants is accessible on CLA fb profile.