I visited Portland this weekend to see a show by the new music ensemble fEARnoMUSIC. The show was titled parallaxis, and was a concert of modern chamber music, each work being combined and presented simultaneously with the work of a collaborative video artist. Great concert. Featured on the program were a smattering of movements from Ligeti’s 2nd string quartet, and a chamber work by one of my previous teachers, Steve Ricks.
I walked away with the profound and reassuring feeling that collaborative art is extremely powerful. While the romantic notion of the independent artist is certainly still valued, art created and presented collaboratively strengthens one’s sense of community. It may sound somewhat trite, but when working with others, you don’t feel so alone 🙂 While solitude has its virtues, despite what many may claim, the sociality of art is what gives it power. Art is relatively useless in a vacuum, decontextualized and stripped of all the social and aesthetic connotations that make it meaningful in the first place. It might be made to selfishly sooth the artists own soul, but the best things in life are always shared.
Another related practical matter concerning the artists well-being, is that working with others makes you feel needed. It makes you feel valued, an emotionally comforting phenomenon that is welcome to an artist who (like so many often do) is wondering what their own place in the world is, or questioning their own function or use as a creator. I felt this comfort quite deeply as I walked away from a UORDC concert last night where two of my works were performed in conjunction with choreography. Gratitude.
A suggestion: if you are feeling lonely, trapped into an aesthetic dead-end, or emotionally distraught, . . . seek another artist to work with. You’ll make each other feel a lot better about what you do.