Gyorgy Kepes, with William Wainwright, Photoelastic Walk 1969 (detail)
Gyorgy Kepes with William Wainwright
Photoelastic Walk 1969 (detail)

This issue explores the theme of collaboration, focusing on examples of artistic projects that draw attention to the political implications of ‘working together’, and the way in which collaborations are often mediated by technology, communication channels and group dynamics. Other papers in this issue include a reinterpretation of an enigmatic painting by J.M.W. Turner, an account of Barbara Hepworth’s 1968 Tate retrospective, and a report on the educational value of Tate’s exhibitions.

Contents

MEDIATING COLLABORATION

MEDIATING COLLABORATION
Larne Abse Gogarty

This article examines Sharon Hayes’s video work Ricerche: three 2013 and the way it represents and mediates the often-painful psychic processes of group formation, in this case propelled by internal and external social pressures. Drawing upon the work of British psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion and the philosopher Iris Marion Young, the essay analyses the artwork’s exploration of ‘womanhood’ as the locus of collective subjectivity and political agency.

MEDIATING COLLABORATION
John R. Blakinger

This essay uses new archival sources to reconstruct the aesthetics – and ethics – of collaboration at Gyorgy Kepes’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT during the Cold War. Exploring how the Center's artistic ambitions became entangled with military agendas, this essay reveals two contradictory models of interdisciplinary exchange – one based on complicity, the other based on conversion – and examines the conflicts that arose from this double bind.

MEDIATING COLLABORATION
James Boaden

In 1972 the artists Lynda Benglis and Robert Morris swapped videotapes made collaboratively in each other’s studios to create new works that negotiate their personal and professional relationship. This article argues that, taken together, these works question the common tropes of early video art, especially what art historian Rosalind Krauss called the ‘aesthetics of narcissism’, and point to the emergence of a form of fractured subjectivity borne from technological mediation.

MEDIATING COLLABORATION
Amy Tobin

This paper discusses two feminist-influenced collaborative art projects: London/LA Lab 1981 and Postal Art Event 1975–7. It reflects on how these art projects related to feminist politics and the organisation of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain and North America, specifically in relation to consciousness-raising.

Eleanor Clayton

In 1968 Barbara Hepworth was honoured with a significant retrospective at the Tate Gallery. This paper offers a close reading of the archival documents relating to the exhibition, revealing the extent of Hepworth’s involvement in the design of the show and the intentions behind her curatorial decisions, especially her choice of plinths.

Sam Smiles

The subject of Turner’s mysterious unfinished painting, known today as Death on a Pale Horse, is a problem that has baffled generations of scholars. It has been proposed that it is a response to the death of Turner’s father in 1829 or to the cholera outbreak of 1832 but these suggestions are at best circumstantial. This paper offers a new interpretation of this enigmatic painting, linking it principally to the cause of political Reform.

REPORT
Mariza Dima

In this report Mariza Dima sets out the findings of a research project examining the experiential and educational value of Tate’s ticketed exhibitions to its audiences. Exhibition planning, the contributions of small and medium-sized enterprises and the museum’s data-gathering practices are explored, taking the 2014 exhibitions Late Turner and Malevich as case studies.