Vincent CovingtonCovington's entire body of work consists of collaborations with other artists and musicians. "Whether it was painting, photography, acting or writing, my solo projects never seemed to be complete - they didn't stand confidently on their own." Instead, he offers ideas and gathers materials - photographs, rice paper and stones - for collaborative projects with artists whom he respects. These have included Kyle Field, Jad Fair, Atsushi Nakano and Sari Bald.
Artist Statement"Collaborations necessitate seeing things from different perspectives. Collaborations keep me from forming habits and force me to learn new skills. Collaborations, as communicative social experiences, allow me to hang out with hip, fascinating people."
With Kyle Field"Kyle and I both needed to blow off steam. He was returning from a brutal tour of Denmark and I was having the usual problems with - I guess it's best not get into it. Anyways, I brought over a bunch of magazines and photos I had recently taken over to his hotel, waking him up in the process. I threw the materials on the floor and once Kyle finished his shower, we attacked them with scissors, pens and really stinky paint markers, which I think kind of stoned us. After a wine-based lunch, things really got crazy. We created a city of smart-ass monsters. It was sad when he had to fly back to the coast - but I sensed Kyle really needed the ocean."
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With Jad Fair"Having long been a fan of Half-Japanese (his awesome band!), I was giddy to work with Jad Fair.
Here I was collaborating with someone who had himself collaborated with Yo La Tengo, Daniel Johnston and the Teenage Fanclub. He is also the writer of classic lines such as, 'A princess? Uh-uh. A cheerleader? No. They're not even half as good as an angel.' When Jad arrived in Tokyo for his Japan tour, I promptly handed him a box of photographs that I had taken around my neighborhood. I then took him out for some damn fine sushi. At the conclusion of his 4-day tour, Jad returned to Tokyo and presented me with the same box. Inside, all the photos were beautifully cut to hell - creature masks of various shape and mood. At the exhibition opening party, Jad couldn't stop praising Japan Rail, "Thanks to the smooth ride of the bullet train, I was able to produce the works you see before you."
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With Sari Bald"Sari is so damn smart - she's read every book by Italo Calvino, Thomas Bernhard and David Foster Wallace. She seems to know every cool artist personally - though she's about as cool as they come - with her thick school-teacher glasses and yellow boots. Like most of Sari's work, our collaboration involved interaction with the public and an artwork that slowly 'reveals' itself. We met in Berlin on a sunny Monday and barbecued corn with friends in Tiergarten well into the evening. BMF (Berlin Media Festival) was set to have it's press opening on Thursday, so we really only had 2 full days to complete the project, but Sari never seemed to be in a hurry. In fact, she chastised me several times for glancing at my watch. With the Silver Jews and Throwing Muses blaring from the speakers placed high in the rafters of the communist era 'People's Theatre', we methodically glued together 20 wall sized sheets of white paper, which would soon be torn up one layer at a time by the enthusiastic public. Hiding images of controversial people within the 'sculpture' was her idea. Placing barcodes next to the pictures so viewers could get info about the images using their cell phones was mine. I haven't talked with Sari since our collaboration, but I hear she built a kick ass igloo at an ice rink in Singapore."
With Atsushi Nakano"Atsushi has been my partner in crime since art school, when we both adored all the artists our teachers adored - Anselm Kiefer, Richard Diebenkorn and Gerhard Richter. I don't know how we both managed to eventually graduate, considering how close our studio was to the 3B Tavern, where we treated our livers as experimental canvases. Our 'Battle of the Pacific' was the first student exhibition held at the Viking Gallery, and I believe it still holds the record for best attendance. It was there that I sold my first work. It is also where I had my first work stolen. However, thanks to the university's comprehensive insurance policy, I actually received more money for the stolen work than for the one I honestly sold. Our second major collaboration, the 'Dogg Show', was almost too much fun to write about. Two months of nothing but dogs. In addition to the Asian 'Year of the Dog' (2006) looming around the corner, Atsushi had just finished an exhibition of animal paintings while I was hard at work on a documentary about a 'dog park' - a place where petless people can rent dogs by the hour. Though the theme of the show was dogs, the conceptual basis of the collaboration was a Japanese activity called 'shiritori', a game in which each participant says a word beginning with the last letter of the previous player's word. Instead of words, we used paintings and photographs. Atsushi sent me a dog painting and I sent him several photographs of dogs. From there, a massive portfolio developed and our bank accounts were severely dented by postal fees. Works spiraled out of controlled, hitting viewers at Osaka's City Gallery square in the mouth. It was all good fun. Occasionally, I still get emails from Atsushi out of the blue that say something like, 'Up for Wolves?' or 'Feeling penguintastic?' I know it's best not to reply.
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Brief InterviewWhat was your best collaborative experience?
"Definitely working with Atsushi Nakano. Mostly because we know each other so well. I need his pure artistic skill and he needs my electricity. We drink a few beers together and then we are off racing, pushing each other without causing injury - or at least without causing serious injury. Our collaborative university graduation project was the genesis of all my later collaborations. I might still be a collaboration virgin if it wasn't for him, so it is kind of like my duty to say it was the best."
What was your worst collaborative experience?
"Marty Kienholzer. Without a doubt. What started as a video project about historical railway lines in Northern England ended up as dinner party decorated with train-themed meat sculptures. But this wasn't even the bad part. What I didn't care for were the chemical burns and Marty's constantly screaming girlfriend. It's hard to even call that a collaboration. How could I have been a part of that?
What artists would you most like to collaborate with in the future?
"Easy one. Either Yoko Ono or Marina Abramovich. They were pioneers in the 60s, yet they continue to produce one provocative artwork after another. They are unstoppable forces of creativity. I'm cooking up some project ideas in case they return my phone calls. Of course, it would also be fun to work with an illustrator like Jason Polan or David Shrigley. Jason Polan really blows my mind - he sketched the Museum of Modern Art's entire collection. If you send him money, he'll draw you anything."