Color horizontal image. A collective of artists sitting around two tables in the JAMAC studio converse. A few sheets of paper on the tables.
Atelier do Jardim Miriam Arte Clube - JAMAC. Photo: Courtesy JAMAC

Both the choice of five collectives as nominees for the Turner Prize, in 2021, and the announcement of 14 collectives as the first participants of documenta fifteen indicate an important moment of inflection in artistic practice, which reveals the spirit of the time: the passage from the isolation of the called a plastic artist in his studio for a solidary and sustainable action, which aims at new forms of action in the world. Finally.

In other artistic areas, such as theater, dance and music, for example, the collective experience has always been present. In the visual arts, very little, despite several isolated historical cases. However, since the beginning of the 21st century, initiatives have been growing that have not failed to be mapped in important exhibitions such as the 2001 Panorama of Brazilian Art, curated by Paulo Reis, Ricardo Basbaum and Ricardo Resende, at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo. (MAM-SP).

Among the groups selected there were Atrocidades Maravilhosas, Mico and Clube da Lata, which for twenty years had already been looking for a new form of agency in the art scene. The artist also participated in that edition of Panorama Monica Nador, with the Paredes Pinturas project, the embryo of Jamac – Jardim Miriam Arte Clube, which five years later participated in the 27th São Paulo BiennialIn 2006.

With general curatorship by Lisette Lagnado, the edition, entitled how to live together, in fact brought more collectives besides Jamac itself, such as the Argentinian Eloisa Cartonera and the Chinese Long March Project. Eight years later, in the 31st edition, a group of curators selected by Charles Esche again focused on collectives, such as ruangrupa himself, who now directs documenta fifteen, but also the Bolivian Mujeres Creando, the Russian Chto Delat or the Argentine Etcetera and the Brazilian Grupo Contrafilé.

Horizontal, color photo. Nine members of the collective of ruangrupa artists gathered
ruangrupa, 2019. Photo: Jin Panji

It is ironic that this growth of collectives arose during the phenomenon of the expansion of art fairs which, due to its essentially commercial profile, brought back a somewhat fetishistic character of the artist and his work, in addition to elevating the figure of the collector. as the main legitimator of the circuit – only what sells should be considered.

As a sort of antidote to this system, which had already been in decline for some years, these collectives sought new practices, often far from fairs and collectors' homes. They are both in institutions and universities, as is the case with Forensic Architecture, based at the University of London's Goldsmiths, which was nominated for Turner in 2018, or are they just informal groups of artists, such as #coleraalegria, in Brazil, that have been contributing in relevant political manifestations with the creation of an innovative visual material and far from the serious clichés of conventional militancy, in addition to having a strong insertion in social networks.

Not by chance, in his recent book What comes after the farce, the American critic Hal Foster points out that many artists have been working in the “reconstruction” key, that is, they are looking for systems that serve as alternative possibilities for the collapsing world.

The case of #coleraalegria is exemplary, because it is a grouping of militancy, where each one continues with their individual work, but in the collective there is an energy that is multiplied by the singularities.

Thus, contrary to what is conventionally said that documenta sets trends, the next edition of the event will consecrate practices under construction for more than two decades, which are repositioning the arts system.

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