ISSUE 35 FALL/WINTER 2019/20 OUT NOW         ISSUE 35 FALL/WINTER 2019/20 OUT NOW    

Young Girl Reading Group


Embedded in a global network of trusted practitioners, artists Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė discuss their collaborative output Young Girl Reading Group, renegotiating artistic production outside the traditional cliché of the singular artistic genius.

KALEIDOSCOPE  Re-thinking authorship and ownership of ideas seems to be the key to unlocking a relevant cultural discourse today. What’s your take on collaboration?

DOROTA GAWĘDA  Collaboration is the core of our work. I feel like we have never really worked outside of that model, so in a sense, for us, it’s the first known way of being an artist. It’s also a way of completely renegotiating artistic production outside of the traditional model of the singular artistic genius, or whatever the cliché of that is.

EGLĖ KULBOKAITĖ  Collaboration allows you to give your work to someone else and trust them to change it. I think that’s quintessential.

K  How does the notion of “collaboration” affect your own work?

EK  It depends in which sphere it’s situated. In writing, for example, it’s interesting to give the work to someone else. They can completely change it, but they also have to feel in a similar way, and you have to trust them to share the same beliefs. We collaborate with a lot of people that are professionals in their own sphere, and we really trust their vision, be it visual or sonic.

DG   We engage in all sorts of collaboration. The first one is between the two of us, and that’s kind of where it begins. Also the Reading Group, before it became our art practice, was about finding a collaborative way of sharing knowledge and creating meaning between a group of people, while directing your learning through casual meetings and conversations.

K  Would you be able to name three collaborations that you wish could become reality? What are three collaborations that you’ve already developed and that you’re proud of?

EK  This is very hard to say, but maybe it’s more the future collaborations that we are really excited about. We’re gonna work soon with Tinos Quarry Platform for a brief residency project, and we’re collaborating with Gruppe, a collective from Berlin, to help us host an online project. We are also so grateful for the input of all our performers to SULK III: Albane Gayet, Luki von der Grach and Elena Marija.

DG  We have our circle of friends and we feel very connected to what they do, so I think it’s always nice not to look far for collaboration. Before Young Girl Reading Group, we had a project space in Basel called Agatha Valkyrie Ice, which was somehow very ambitious in giving up authorship to the amount of people that were involved. There were many people, all involved in many different capacities. We were in charge of the curatorial side of the project, and we ran the space for two years.
The collaboration with IFF for the perfume was also very important for us, because we wanted to work with people who are specialized in this field, as it opens up possibilities of making work outside of your area of immediate expertise and take it much further.

K  Building a shared network of influences and references is a major driver for collaboration. What’s the process behind choosing your collaborators?

EK  We work within an extended network of friends. They’re all specialists in their own field, as in this group there isn’t only artists, but a variety of people that have a take on different professions.

DG  It’s nice because we started the reading group when no one in our friends circle was doing that much professionally, and it’s really nice to see people growing together and mutually. That’s really beautiful.

K  Do you think collaboration prompts a horizontal and multi-disciplinary approach to different creative fields?

EK  Yes, for sure. Collaborating is always one changing another. This is evident in how we write the script for our performances—listening to what others have to say.

DG  The piece that we are showing here at KALEIDOSCOPE MANIFESTO has developed from what it was in the beginning because all these different elements bring out certain meaning in the other ones, so it’s amazing to have a big group of people working on this performance. For instance, the music by Dodomundo brings out the best in the text and then influences the movement and the way that the performers direct themselves. The fashion element, on which we collaborated with stylist Christelle Owona Nisin and Berlin-based brand Ottolinger, is also something that we want to work with more, as it defines the image of the work and how it travels through documentation.

Dorota Gawęda (Polish, b. 1986) and Eglė Kulbokaitė (Lithuanian, b. 1987) are an artist duo founded in 2013, based in Basel (CH) and Athens (GR). Together they direct the project Young Girl Reading Group, whose new performative installation “SULK III And all that you Change Changes me” was presented as part of KALEIDOSCOPE MANIFESTO.
Installation views by Martin Argyroglo.
Performance documentation by Vadim Kovriga and Christelle Owona Nisin.

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