• Vincent Sell

Collaborative Art


The best art, I believe, is collaborative art. The more individuals contributing their creativity to a project the more dynamic and complete it becomes. The art forms that lend themselves best to this are music and theatre. The truly extraordinary works of art in those mediums, among other things, have a mystery about them—a mystery as to who is actually most responsible. Every member is a pillar without which the structure could not stand. Is there a formula for such a thing? I don’t think so. The only formula that exists is how we make ourselves ready for it, whatever our area of expertise. In order to be effective at collaboration we must bring something to the table, which often means a lot of time spent woodshedding and perfecting our craft. We also must be prepared to leave our ego at the door. Self importance is the killer of collaboration. The delight we take in being a part, or even witnessing, collaborative art is in losing ourselves in the process and joining something greater. However much we cling to it, our idea of ourselves is a burden that is ever so liberating to let go of. The best collaboration pushes us. It shakes us out of complacency. Being in collaboration with others allows our awareness of ourselves to dissolve and the awareness of others and the task at hand to come into focus. Another thing that the most exceptional examples of collaborative art share is the number of “happy accidents” that occurred in their creation, all the chance encounters that speak to some gravity that the project itself exerted. I’m convinced that the most wonderful things in this world, like successful military campaigns, successful solving of dilemmas and, lastly, successful creations of art came about because they were more important than any one individual. They were successful because the egos of those involved were subsumed by a cause in which they could disappear. Whatever we or others may say after the fact, whatever attributions we may assign, it doesn’t take away from the fact that in the moment something extraordinary occurred for which no one can take credit.