Combative Collaboration – Investigating the Process of Cornford and Cross

8 02 2008

As a creative partnership we do have agreed aims, but we don’t have a set
method or approach. What unites all our projects is that they are developed
through prolonged, intense and often adversarial discussions and debate
(Cross. 2004:p658).

cornfordcross.jpg

A Month in the Country October 2003

Cornford and Cross have developed a process that is argumentative. According to their interviews, they create through debate, with one constantly trying to outdo the other’s ideas until one gives up. They both believe in the strength of a good idea, meaning if it withstands critical debate, it’s worth pursuing. When one finally gives up, and agrees that the other’s idea is stronger, they create the work. This image above is from A Month in the Country. It is about the commodification of the image and particularly photographs which they acquired from Corbis, which has the world’s largest stock photography collection. Instead of showing the photographs, they whitewashed it, making the piece into a statement, rather than a product.

cornford-and-cross-3.jpgcornford-and-cross-1.jpgcornford-and-cross-2.jpg

The Abolition of Work November 2007

The question that arises is that with debate, one person wins and the other loses. Their form of discourse exists in the opposite side of the spectrum of Gilbert and George. In a way, they always say no, until they can no longer prove that the other is wrong. When defeat is accepted, they both do the project, achieving their aim of a conceptually strong piece of work.
Our practice deals with neither the discourse of Cornford and Cross nor Gilbert and George. To achieve our aim of having the choice to agree or disagree, it is important that two artistic visions are presented. That is the reason why we have chosen within our process to either affirm or negate the other’s techniques and ideas. In presenting two individual pieces that interact, we choose to reveal the negotiations that take place within collaborations, rather than hiding the discourse that takes place.
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