In Art Collision & Repair Shop, artists perform in teams to finish ("repair") the incomplete artwork of other artists who create in the same city. Susan Begy invented, manages and performs as an artist in the project, which premiered at CCA Santa Fe and is continuing in other cities.
Art Collision & Repair Shop as described by art writer Lauren Tresp: Regardless of the projects we are working on, the following are feelings familiar to all of us: frustration with our progress, creative block, dissatisfaction with our final product, etc. What if you could turn the whole thing over to someone else? Could you wholly surrender a potentially doomed endeavor to the hands of another for intervention? These are some of the questions that formed the root of the Art Collision & Repair Shop, a process- and collaboration-driven art project created by Santa Fe- and Brooklyn-based artist Susan Begy and co-curated for exhibition in Santa Fe with art historian and critic Kathryn M Davis. Following this initial line of inquiry, and inspired by Begy’s personal experience growing up around an auto mechanic shop, an expansive project emerged that opened up lines of inquiry including the dynamics of team collaborations, conceptions of authorship, the role of curatorial direction, and the aesthetics of community-specific large-scale installation.
Taking the format of the mechanic shop as a model, local artists brought in and surrendered “stalled” or frustrating works, and “art mechanic” teams—also comprised of local creatives—were each given a piece along with the task of intervening in, resuscitating, or otherwise resolving the artwork to the point of completion. By using this model, the role of the curators was reimagined. Rather than selecting artists’ works for exhibition, the curatorial role here was in combining the elements and guiding the alchemy along.
The project explored not only issues of intervention and surrender, but most significantly the collaborative creative process. With open-ended freedom (and plenty of space to fill at the Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Fe), each team proceeded down unique paths. Some preserved most of the donated piece and built upon it, for example, in Team MC-D’s reworking of Matthew Chase-Daniel’s donated piece, the woven object remained intact and served as a jumping off point for the team’s additions and pendulum-like installation of exposure | distance. Other teams deconstructed the originating artwork and reconstructed something else entirely, as in Team Conspiracy Theory’s Project Sandhill, in which painter Charles Greeley’s contribution all but disappeared amidst the frenetic collection of documents, photos, maps, and detritus collected in search of a fictive conspiracy at work in New Mexico.
Internally, some teams worked more independently and then merged their contributions, others worked closely together throughout the process. The resulting installations reflect widely different aesthetics and conceptual concerns, from Team Liminal’s meditative, lyrical Untitled, to Team Reverse Waste-Stream Renovators’ eclectic, irreverent Decommissioned Turbocharged Transformation and Glorious Resoulification of the North American Free-Trade Agreement Altarpiece of Reflection. Despite this, the exhibition space was filled with an overarching feeling of exploratory and playful energy.
The individual projects and resulting exhibition ultimately blurred the lines of authorship, giving the endeavor an aura of place rooted in the Santa Fe community. The specific locality of the elements—teams, artist-donors, curators, venue, audience—invokes curiosity: how would the same endeavor take shape elsewhere? Is there a specific spirit or aesthetic at work in Santa Fe, New Mexico? Would the spirit and aesthetic of the project look and feel different in Houston, Chicago, Portland, etc.? There is a way to find out: perhaps the Art Collision and Repair Shop will open additional locations!
Lauren Tresp is an art writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has written about visual arts for local and national publications. She holds a Master of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and History from UCLA. Tresp is also a certified yoga instructor with lifelong interests in history, philosophy, and experimenting in the kitchen.
Videography: Bill Stengel & Kim Richardson of Elements Media, Santa Fe.
Actors: Susan Begy, Alexis Bove, Cary Cluett, Kathryn M Davis, Cheri Ibes, Brian Nees, Audrey Richardson, Willy Richardson, AJ Shelton, Cole Simmons, Tori Simmons, Ryan VanCompernolle.
Music: I Want To Be Happy by Ken Gordon.
Works on Paper
These drawings are performances in a sense. Imagined micro-scale human dramas play out on the stages of macro-scale systems. Galactic, solar, cultural, economic, educational, mathematical, governmental. Systems hold us together. It’s the drama, however, that holds our attention.
If the drawings are performances, the sculptures are props. Components of sculpture installations are repertory actors of sorts and make appearances in various installations.
Balance plays a role in much of this work along with an interplay of past, present, and future. Somewhere there's a fulcrum: what's happening at the poles? Passion and practicality. Magic and science. Left Right. Wrong. Right Left. There is an unsettled sea in between - and it's gooey.
cosmic communicator, 2011, alabaster, records, copper, conduit, electrical wire, 11 x 2 x 3 feet
* The record albums in cosmic communicator contain songs that were included on the Golden Record that was placed aboard both Voyager 77 spacecraft:
a. Chuck Berry, Johnny B. Goode (US).
b. Beethoven, 5th Symphony, 1st Movement, Philharmonic Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, conductor (Ger/UK).
c. Blind Willie Johnson, Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (US).
d. Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue in C, No. 1, Glenn Gould (Ger/Can).
e. Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring (Sacrificial Dance)/Le Sacred u Princetemps, Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Russ/Fr/US).
f. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven, Melancholy Blues (US).
g. Goro Yamaaguchi, Cranes's Nest (Jap).
per square foot, May 17, 2013, at The Shirey exhibition space, Bushwick, Brooklyn
The Final Rose, performance by Jessica Bowman & Jamie Sneider;
Within Arm's Reach, performance by Cathleen Cueto II with baby Graham McKeon; Propinquity Effect, performance by Ryan VanCompernolle & Austin Tyson; Saudade, by Jenn Brantley; Airwick-Matic® Can Wipe It Out, by Pooneh Maghazehe.
"Living rooms. Life choices. Space constraints. The living room can be the center of a household’s activities. Or, it is the room with the most lavish décor—a shrine to good taste with very little actual living. Or, a place to pay attention to something—pop culture, high culture, spiritual, technological, or sexual. Where we live is where we take care of our bodies, our desires, our fears, our families. Where we soothe our stressed-out souls, perform necessary tasks, or let loose. Living space is at a premium in NYC so we pack a lot of living into a small space. Through performance and installation each artist in per square foot investigates an aspect of living in a designated (and yes, small) space at The Shirey for a one-night stand, so to speak." -Susan Begy, curator