Shows to See:
The Beauty of Collaboration

“Collaboration is without a doubt a central method in contemporary art today… Various kinds of collaboration – between artists and curators, between artists and others – are once more appearing and becoming an increasingly established working method.” These words come from the opening to eminent Swedish curator Maria Lind’s 2018 essay on agency and collaborative contemporary art. Her words still ring true in 2024. Six years later, we might think of powerful projects from Bieke Depoorter and Yao Yuan, photographers whose works revolve around the relationship between those behind and in front of the camera. Artistic duos and collectives such as Tropico Photo, Albarrán Cabrera and Marshmallow Laser Feast might come to mind too. Today, in the spirit of this collective way of working, we are bringing you five international exhibitions that highlight the beauty and power of joining creative forces.

Yan Wang Preston: Three Easier Pieces | Messums | Until 25 May

This month, Yan Wang Preston’s highly anticipated solo exhibition Three Easier Pieces opens at Messums London. The show includes the restaging of canonical artworks such as Zhang Huan’s To Add a Metre to an Anonymous Mountain (1995), Édouard Manet’s Olympia (1863) and Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1817). Read our interview with the artist to learn more about her interest in participatory artworks that “are very powerful because they send a collective voice, not just the artist’s.”

Duos: The Art of Collaboration | Charleston | Until 8 September

Charleston celebrates collaborative practice in this exciting new group show. On display are pieces from 16 pairs, from sisters Virginia Woolf & Vanessa Bell to the couple Lee Miller & Roland Penrose to the artistic duo Athen Kardashian & Nina Mhach Duran. This exhibition is a testament to the fact that art is rarely created in a vacuum. Throughout the ages, people have had varying degrees of influence on the big names we know today, from family members to friends. Duos is an homage to the power of collaboration.

The Adventures of Guille and Belinda | Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation | Until 19 May

In 1999, photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti met two children who would have a profound impact on her artwork, Guillermina Aranciaga and Belinda Stutz. They are cousins who helped Sanguinetti to create the The Adventures of Guille and Belinda, a documentary series spanning the various stages of their lives, all the way from childhood to adulthood. Set in the overwhelmingly male world of guachos and farmers in rural Argentina, here we see a strong bond between three women who form a close-knit artistic circle.

Joanne Coates: Middle of Somewhere | Baltic | Until 17 November

Winner of The Vasseur Baltic Artists’ Award 2024, Joanne Coates now presents new work as part of a show titled Middle of Somewhere. The working-class photographer questions concepts of power, identity, wealth and poverty by exploring the social histories of land, gender and class to narrate stories that have long been forgotten – or simply never told. Participation and working with communities are important aspects of Coates’ work, which especially comes to the fore in her documentary series The Lie of the Land.

Cooper & Gorfer: Sirens | Fotografiska Shanghai | Until 4 August

Cooper & Gorfer comprises Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer. The pair started working together in 2006 to create art that examines the themes of illusion, memory and dislocation. Their work illustrates the malleability of identity through layered pictorial collages of the female experience. They continue to address these ideas here by presenting a fictitious tribe of women in different states of transformation. Allure and danger are suggested through collages that combine caricature, painting and photography.

Image Credits:

  1. The Wrestle, 2022 ©️ Cooper & Gorfer.
  2. Yan Wang PrestonAfter ‘Olympia, 1863’, 2023_Stage.
  3. The Cousins, 2005 © 2021 Alessandra Sanguinetti / Magnum Photos.
  4. The Wrestle, 2022 ©️ Cooper & Gorfer.