Initiate, Transform, Sustain, Reach Out

Post Natyam Collective Members Reflect on Long-Distance Collaboration

II. Transform: Virtual Teamwork

Sandra: In 2008–2009, I was doing a course in “Kultur und Organisation” (“Culture and Organisation”) at Institut für Kulturkonzepte at the University of Vienna. As part of this course, Post Natyam went through an organisational restructuring process to rethink the structure of our collective, seeking to make administrative collaboration more efficient so as to facilitate art making.

Cynthia: When I joined the collective in early 2008, there were established methods of administrative collaboration, such as sharing documents online and holding meetings via Skype. However, the collective still relied on in-person artistic collaborations when life circumstances allowed them to be in the same city. Impatient to start creative work and inspired by Remy Charlip’s airmail dances, I suggested that we give each other choreographic assignments via email. The collective decided to try collaborating creatively online using many of the same free internet technologies that we already used administratively.

Sandra: So, between 2008 and 2009, following creative impulses from the newest collective member, Cynthia, along with the organisational restructuring, our process transitioned into a structured, internet-based, long-distance creative process. This shift initiated creative collaboration again and enabled artistic work to take place, but it also affected our overall work in unforeseen ways.

Our choreographic process no longer focused on an end product – a joint performance. Instead it changed into an open process of creating material around a chosen theme through a facilitated assignment process, where we take turns giving each other assignments, uploading them to our blog, and giving feedback. We began transforming each other’s material into multiple manifestations based on the same material, instead of working towards one common end product.

Cynthia: We adopted an “open source” policy within the collective, through which we encourage each other to steal, recycle, and translate each other’s material. To illustrate how this works, here is one series of choreographic transformations that unfurled from our long-distance assignment process. It resulted in multiple artistic products in radically different media, authored by different people, and presented in varied contexts.

Cynthia Ling Lee, Sandra Chatterjee (2012): Initiate, Transform, Sustain, Reach Out. Post Natyam Collective Members Reflect on Long-Distance Collaboration. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #01 ,