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Great Malvern, United Kingdom in 1975
Imagine the statement "WE ARE EVERYWHERE" painted on a wall.
The sentence is blank enough to carry a range of meanings. To the optimistic, it might offer a sense of hope; to the paranoid, it is further evidence that they are under attack; the reaction of most people will depend on variable factors, the weather, lunch, and sporting fixtures.
An artist can control the context in which his/her work appears (whose wall is painted). The artist normally assumes responsibility for the content and shape of their work (which words are painted). What the artist can't do is dictate how their work will be received (the sentence passed by the presiding judge).
The maker could be seen as the inverse of the viewer: on the one hand there is me, the artist, and on the other hand there is you, the audience whom I hope to impress; I can start a conversation, and you can respond - or not. But rather than take this as an antagonistic relationship, I prefer to be optimistic and turn it on its head. I think this makes us equal, and as equals, we should be able to collaborate equally.
All of my work is either implicitly or explicitly collaborative - it is like a game: rigorous and rewarding for me; enjoyable and provocative for you. But to have any meaning, both sides must be equally involved. I take responsibility for creating the structure; within the structure, you are free to move at will.
we reversed these roles. Increasingly, I wish to create situations and
games in which the audience makes propositions to which I respond. This
model of collaboration will free me from being restricted to the opening
gambit; thus, I will be granted greater freedom as an artist, albeit within
the structures you dictate. It also means that 'we' isn't just 'me', and
there's a chance of us ending up, if not 'everywhere', at least 'anywhere'.
Benedict Carpenter, 2005
Piece exhibited in Venice: Poppy, dimensions variable, Spray painted stencilled graffito