inTroduCTion
The SemAnTiCS of CollAborATion —— 1
if oneness in art works inevitably implies the use of force against the many—
phrases like “mastery over materials” in aesthetical criticism betray this state
of affairs—then it follows that the many must also fear oneness.
T. w. Adorno, Aesthetic theory
This book began with a question. Why have so many artists over
the past decade and a half been drawn to collaborative or collec-
tive modes of production? This is a global phenomenon, extend-
ing from the fashionable biennales of Europe to the villages of
central India, from the Hamburg waterfront to the arctic circle
of Finland, and from generously subsidized new media centers
to struggling community art programs. While each practitioner
comes to collaborative work with a unique perspective, these
individual creative choices, taken in the aggregate, reveal much
about both the current political moment and the broader his-
tory of modern art. We must begin, of course, by coming to terms
with collaboration itself. Its primary meaning is straightforward
enough: “to work together” or “in conjunction with” another, to
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