Initiate, Transform, Sustain, Reach Out

Post Natyam Collective Members Reflect on Long-Distance Collaboration

III. Sustain: Trust and consensual Collaboration

Sandra: Sustaining long-distance collaboration does not only rest on free internet technologies. It also requires personal commitment and trust. Coming from an artistic tradition that is still built more on personal relationship than institutionalized and professionalized structures, our long-term artistic engagement with each other is based on intimate collaboration, sustained connections, and hard-earned trust. We are creative partners, engaging in a committed collaborative relationship. As such, we have been involved with each other’s work and lives for more than a decade. As our creative long-distance relationship grows, it increasingly reflects the ways in which we value a long-term process over short-term products.

Cynthia: We have articulated our concept of “consensual collaboration” in our manifesto as follows:

Yes to consensual collaboration.

CYN: Be generous. Be a thief. Encourage each other to borrow, steal, appropriate, translate.
Do so fearlessly rather than tiptoeing on eggshells. Trust each other as artists and human beings.

Yes to trust.
Yes to honesty.
Yes to respect.
Yes to process without product.
Yes to an online collective process from which we each craft individual products.

BABLI: Create a virtual treasure-box of materials and approaches that circulates to reveal multiple facets of a shared topic.
CYN: As we translate each other, ideas manifest multiply as dance films, scholarly writing, live performance, artbooks, lecture-demonstrations, installations, workshops…

Yes to creative recycling and reusing.
Yes to open-source.

BABLI: But wait, exactly what are we saying yes to? Do we understand the implications of it? And will we really be ok with anyone just taking our work and remixing it without telling us?
SHY: I meant open-source methodology, not open-source choreography.
CYN: You know, I think we’re open-source within the collective, but not necessarily with the outside world. The term connotes creative commons, decentralization of authorship, invitation for re-appropriation, and crowd-sourcing – which do resonate with our creative process.
BABLI: After all, we do make our choreographic assignments, process, and in-progress drafts available online at no cost for the public.
CYN: It’s like they have access to the source code and blueprints…
BABLI: …but not always the final products (if there even are any).

Yes to giving credit.
Yes to supportive feedback.
Yes to multiple voices, multiple aesthetics, multiple authors.

CYN: If you need to create unity, coherence, a singular clarity, then make that work on your own, and we’ll give feedback.

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 ,