A group of eight artists were brought together in 2018 by Nancy Turner to test the hypothesis that individual artists, practicing in a variety of media, with different philosophical and artistic approaches, could work individually at a distance on the same surface to produce imaginative, coherent work. As participants we viewed this project as an extension of our own current art practices. The initial project, Rut/Route/Lane, exceeded our expectations and with that, the group has continued to develop a variety of collaborative experiments to exhibit. The collective now called, Hana Kark has been invited to participate in Kolaj Fest New Orleans 2019, an Artist’s Residency at The Gallery of GCC at Glendale College in Glendale, California for Summer 2019 and have several exhibition opportunities for the Fall of 2019.
Karkhana is the Urdu term for the imperial-sponsored workshops that produced manuscripts for Mughal Emperors from the sixteenth until the nineteenth century in what today is India and Pakistan. In these workshops, the production for a single work of art was divided among various collaborating “masters.”
The Karkhana concept was tweaked for our project, as what was historically an actual physical workshop with many skilled workers in the same place became instead a loosely defined collaborative network. Eight artists worked for eight months on sixteen pieces circulated in a prescribed order until everyone worked on all sixteen pieces.
Techniques used included painting, drawing, printing, stitching, stamping, cutting and pasting. Participants were allowed to erase, remove, or paint over earlier marks if necessary for the composition. Each mixed-media piece has a diaristic element as every artist was instructed to write on the back and to note the date of arrival and when they finished it and of course, to sign the back. Some artists added notes about mood or a particular emotional trial they were going through.The orientation changed on some works as is evident on the paper trail on the back.
Just like in real life, some pieces were easy to work on while others were nearly impossible or impassable. The creation of this conceptual body of work echoed a solo creative practice, which is filled with doubts, anxieties, exhilaration, surprise, fear, and ultimately joy. In the end, everyone came through.
MISSION OF HANA KARK:
The mission of Hana Kark is to make visual art in communal conditions, emulating what is common to theater, music and film. Hana Kark recognizes that every artist is an id-entity and a collective being. Therefore, all Hana Kark art is made by groups of artists in collaborative projects, allowing for individual spontaneity and playfulness within each project’s prescribed limits. Hana Kark believes that art is vital to both audience and makers. Each new project gives Hana Kark the opportunity to creatively rethink audience encounters with art. Hana Kark also provides artists with new ways of creative play and artist support. Hana Kark is now a single module, but the goal is to reproduce the model with other artist groups. Each stand-alone module gives artists an expanded local presence. Over time, clusters of modules can choose to work together to bring regional or national attention to social justice issues and the ways that artists are compensated in current economies.
Over eight months, the 16 works on paper circulated in a prescribed order until everyone had worked on each piece. Here is the zine that we made for our exhibition.
“Route, Rut, Lane: A Karkhana Collaboration”
Shoebox Projects, Los Angeles, CA
S. Portico Bowman, Carlyn Clark, Johnny Fox, Margaret Lazzari, Luke Reichle, Chris Russell, Caryl St. Ama, Nancy Kay Turner. See full exhibition PDF