WHAT IS HAT?
"HAT" is a series of collaborative art projects that take an offbeat approach to forming 'links' and working together during a time when the online presence reigns supreme. The project title refers to the idea of "wearing many hats" and seeing just what sort of roles we play when we are shaping the world around us.
I am seeking funding to produce a book that will document this ongoing project of creative strategies for open engagement. The book project is my undergraduate thesis work with the Kansas City Art Institute. It will be printed with an independent publisher in limited edition and released at a solo exhibition in the spring.
Thus far I have worked with someone as close as my neighbor to as far away as folks on the edges of either coast. I'm especially excited to work with people here in Kansas City but I don't want it to stop there. I will be participating in these open collaborations from now through the winter. If you are interested in being part of the project please contact me! I'd love to hear about your idea.
What will these collaborations look like?
With this book I want to reexamine the 'social network'. Often times we are unknown members of invisible social networks. I feel these unseen connections are best discovered through immersion and participation. I want to experiment with how people work together through a series of small projects of all varieties.
My approach is collaborative in nature because it enables me to both resist becoming solely an observer and to relinquish authority in favor of surprise. "Playing with others" will also be a large part of this project. I am especially interested in the pairing of kindness and cruelty that we can all get away with in the context of play.
So, in one instance I might simply be working with an unknown neighbor to host a sign-painting block party. On other occasions I may be dressing up as an Opera coach named Madame Pflumm whose sole objective is to make her students cry. The possibilities are endless!
Here are some identities i've assumed in previous collaborative projects.
Why translate these experiences into a book?
All of the collaborative experiments will be documented in picture form. Allowing the camera to be the eyes of the room in which something happened will better reveal the role of the individuals who participate. Though, these fixed glimpses into what were once very lively moments are not intended to be a "final product" or end goal. Each page of images will be paired with text that both describes the dynamic of the event and reflects on each happening. I am particularly fascinated by the power of these collaborations. Publishing the evidence allows that exchange to recirculate into the public realm.
How will your contributions help?
I cant do this without you! Printing and publishing a book is an expensive endeavor. In this case, the role of the funder is equally as crucial as the role of a collaborator. Making this thing happen is truly going to be a group effort, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
95% of donations will cover printing and shipping fees, the other 5% goes towards the cost of representing and exhibiting the project. My funding goal is a bare minimum, so anything beyond it will be directed towards the expenses of exhibition and promotion. Purchased/pre-ordered books will raise funds for a portion of the edition. It is important to the integrity of this project that I am able to provide each person I collaborate with a copy of the book for free.
Backer's back-room blog
What am I studying?
As an Art history major/ Printmaking minor, I have been rigorously studying the nature of aesthetics and social phenomena. With this project in particular I am exploring two things: how we interpret the social role of the artist and how people engage in an act of play/creative destabilization.
In a book entitled What Is Art For? the anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake mentions "Variables such as surprise,complexity, incongruity, uncertainty, whim, and conflict- which are avoided in serious behavior- are important and integral components of play"
Experimentation is decidedly crucial to this process as it encourages open participation without much social 'risk'. At the same time I would like to examine what exactly the conditions of viewing are. In particular, I want to scrutinize the role of the viewer in the case of collaboration, creative engagement and 'play'. To what degree are we a participant? an observer? a contributor? an activator? And how does that role effect our experiences, be they grandeur or mundane, in the world at large?
Risks and challenges
On top of venturing into this unknown realm of collaboration, producing HAT is going to be a huge learning experience for me. I have never designed a book of this scope, nor have I worked with a publishing company.
I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a number of talented individuals who are well versed in these practices and I am eager to learn from them. The conception and production of this book are part and parcel of my thesis goals. It will not be easy, but I look forward to figuring it out as I go along.
Once the book is printed, the hardest part is yet to come! A huge challenge ahead of me lies in the exhibition of this book. Planning a solo show is also something I have never done. I am already interfacing with gallery owners and project spaces in hope of finding the perfect place to share this project.
All in all, this won't be easy, but I certainly have a lot to look forward to.
- (30 days)