01 Dec 2015

The Most Important Things: Character and Professionalism

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Recently I worked with an individual on quite a big project and I learned a few important lessons. These points are purely subjective and only reflect my own personal views. 

Never accept a proposal for a screening or an event of any kind where you do not have full control over the aesthetics, and a supervision of all technical elements involved in the presentation.

The encounter between artists with a radical agenda and curators, programmers and organisers with a populist agenda are particularly disastrous. Naturally this works both ways.

It is important to be weary of populist curators, programmers, organisers for the simple fact that their agenda, which initially seems harmonious to your own, is mainly twofold: attendance and audience satisfaction. All initial plans are soon eroded for maximum success of the event on their terms ensuring the safest possible experience for that audience. These terms systematically neutralise all potential conflict, which in itself delivers the work in a more digestible form, ultimately rendering it impotent and without any real value. It is very difficult to study anything that is alive, so the first stage is often to kill it and examine the remains. However this is no condemnation of a certain curatorial practice as populist programming serves a separate purpose altogether, but the collision of two different agendas is highly problematic for all involved, therefore these situations should be avoided. Indeed the cult of the curatorship should be questioned at all times.

Apropos to any collaborative project, it is important to study the activities and background of your collaborator, and only after such research should you decide to embark. It is paramount that you also provide your potential collaborator with a satisfactory amount of information on your own activities and history; there must be full comprehension from both parties. Once you have been informed to an adequate level trust your intuition and go with these instincts. Never take a situation for granted, as this self-deception will render all of the issues undetectable. The entire project will crumble at any moment the absence of trust and confidence. This initial investigation and research is vital for a healthy and successful collaboration.

Finally, if you are coming from an experimental, avant-garde, underground or alternative art do not collaborate with someone who does not understand you. And though you may feel that the rapport is fine and progress is acceptable, this person cannot help you nor you them. Choose your collaborator carefully, ensure that there is not just a keen sensitivity towards your work in general but also an acuteness in understanding how and by whom your work should be presented, and of course the type of audience that is going to see it. Always trust your intuition, and if in doubt use it to investigate and decide wisely.

By Rouzbeh Rashidi

Special thanks to Dean Kavanagh