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Condition Report 4:
Stepping Out of Line; Art Collectives
and Translocal Parallelism

Envisioned by Koyo Kouoh, Marie Helene Pereira,
and Dulcie Abrahams Altass of RAW Material Company, Dakar
Su sanxleẽn booloo wot wer /
Ants come together to find wellbeing
Béy, bu àndul ak béy, ànd ak cere /
Goats who leave the herd,
find themselves in the company of couscous
Wolof proverbs

Above our heads, this very second, thousands upon thousands of birds are flying in flocks. From the lightest shift in the incline of feathers is born a collective moment that allows for protection and efficacy whilst flying over great distances.

From the ground, there appears to be perfect synchronicity within these flock movements, a marvel that scientists are still trying to understand. A flick of a wing, banal on its own, is the genesis of significant impact when performed with other, similar winged beings. This fascinating and naturally occurring activity is a useful starting point for Condition Report 4: Stepping out of line; Art collectives and trans-local parallelism, which exists as a forum for addressing practices and forms of production that take the cooperating, non-hierarchical group as a guiding principle.

The fourth edition of RAW Material Company’s biannual symposium program exploring the artistic landscape in Africa and beyond, CR4 delves into examples of collectivity both historic and contemporary to assess the scope of change possible through the ignition of our interconnectedness. Dreams of cooperation are not always fulfilled, and we acknowledge that the same spirit of resistance, survival, or predation that facilitates collective action can wane or backfire, leaving members out of formation. Yet the aesthetic, physical, and social fields of intervention that are the focus and fodder of collectives merit attention, particularly given the role they play in the seismic movements that are the focus of DAS 2020. This symposium, through its form and content, opens up the different lines of inquiry that emerge from collective practice, with a particular focus on webs of international solidarities. Writers and curators are in dialogue with members of collectives, allowing both critical analysis and historical production to sit side by side with practice.

We begin with an investigation into the formal aesthetic of the collective and the forms, structures, and shapes that emerge both organically and strategically when we flock together. Drawing on both traditions of Bengali ensemble music and the Senegalese Penc – a structure for community dialogue – allows us to enact collective forms and give shape to this coming together. Moreover, the space we use in Dhaka is designed to let the outside in and vice versa, an acknowledgment of the large number of collective practices that are currently threatened by the displacement of entire communities for economic or climatic reasons, who are thus separated from the material space that plays an active role in the affirmation of collective existence. Moving from concerns around form, the conversation will unpack different propositions for making histories of collective practice and collective practices of making histories. Polyphonic in their very nature, collective movements have proven complex to anchor in any one narrative. Members may tell different and contradictory stories, highlighting aspects of particular relevance to their own journey or the wider circles within which they move, beyond the sphere of the collective itself. And yet we know that these stories must be told. If we accept this reality, can we think of the generative space between the swarm behavior of two neighboring bees? What historiographical approaches are necessary for unearthing and learning from gossip, witness accounts, and inconsistency? As articulated by Elvira Dyangani Ose, how can we ‘claim history as a participatory experience’? International collectivism can at times be even harder to map, across linguistic lines and countries with differing relationships to the archive, and yet we must learn to become more supple and more creative in our historiographical methodology if we want to do justice to these histories. Engaging in a more frontal manner with the contemporary moment and the crescendo of interest within both the art world and the fields of social sciences and humanities in collectives and collectivism – indeed as a fully-fledged ‘ism’ – we will also ask questions related to the relationship between collective practice and economy. Are visions of commons and non-hierarchical labor structures purely utopian within a global, late-capitalist order? Must collectives shun capitalism completely to be legitimate, or is it that collective practice must fall on either side of a state/ private dichotomy? How do collectives create models of institutions that disrupt this opposition? How do collectives engage with informal and bartering economies to survive, produce, and endure, and what lessons can be learned from these strategies? Challenging traditional notions of authorship and therefore ownership, artist collectives also challenge and reject the vision of the mythical, singular, and historically male artist, drawing attention to the plurality of skills and efforts needed to generate and support a project. Continuing in this vein, it is worthwhile to pause on how collective practice can influence how formal institutions function, and to consider to what ends and through which channels we can create new alliances of support across domains. Many collectives also tend to have a shorter lifespan than formal institutions, and we will consider the death and dispersal of collectives as key moments in their existence. When birds disband from the flock formation, it signifies that the need that brought them together is no longer relevant; a danger has passed, or the aerodynamic support they provided one another has given sufficient time for rest. To be cognizant of how to collectively separate, shift energies, and acknowledge the end of a mission is a skill that will also be discussed; what happens after the seismic movement? Fundamentally, CR4 is an invitation to think about the ‘we’ and the forms of our relationships with one another. We will question and map strategies that allow the flock to fly and get the job done, and then to leave formation without injury, in a bid to open up this prescient field of study while learning and practising how we can live better together.



Centre for Historical Reenactment (Kemang Wa Lehulere)

Chimurenga (Zipho Dayile)

Cosmin Costinas

Depth Of the Field (Emeka Okereke)

Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Gidree Bawlee (Salma Jamal Moushum)

Green Papaya (Merv Espina)

Hong Kong Artist Union – KY Wong

Jatiwangi (Ismal Muntaha)

John Tain

Joydeb Roaja & Hill Group

Laboratoire Agit’Art (Pascal Nampemanla Traoré)

Luta ca caba inda (Sonia Vaz Borges)

Marina Fokidis

Mustafa Zaman

Pathshala (Taslima Akhter)

ruangrupa (Farid Aditama Rakun)

Shawon Akand

Shomoy Group (Dhali Al Mamoon)

Shoni Mongol Adda (Tarana Willy)

Somankidi Coura (Raphaël Grisey and Bouba Touré)

The Otolith Group

Opening Speech of Diana- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Ogadha' Ekattata | তরঙ্গ by Akaliko- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Keynote by Elizabeth Povinelli -Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Indigenous Resistance and Gender in South Asia and the Pacific History- CR 4 by RAW at DAS2020 

Joydeb Roaja, Hill Artist Group, Greg Dvorak, Mata Aho Collective, Taloi Havini

Forms of Collectives- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Jatiwangi (Ismal Muntaha), Laboratoire Agit’Art (Pascal Nampemanla Traoré), Pathshala (Taslima Akhter)- Moderated by Marina

PENC on Forms of Collectives- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Moderated by Mustafa Zaman, the PENC reflects on the forms of collectives and the future of them.

Making (Collective) History-Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Luta ca caba inda, Guinea Bissau – Chimurenga, South Africa – Gidree Bawlee, Bangladesh – Moderated by Shawon Akand

Collective Practice and Economy- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Somankidi Coura, Mali – Hong Kong Artist Union, Hong Kong – Shoni Mongol Adda, Bangladesh – Moderated by ruangrupa

The Death of the Collective- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

Green Papaya, Philippines – Depth Of Field, Nigeria – Shomoy Group, Bangladesh – Moderated by Cosmin Costinas 

PENC Writing Collective History- Condition Report 4 by RAW Material Company at DAS 2020

The PENC open forum discussion session on writing collective history is moderated by Otolith Group

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