As a form of creative practice, collaboration holds the promise to extend capacities, challenge hierarchies, and create new forms of community. At best, however, it is a fraught experiment frankly characterized by discord and strife, often reinstating the same power dynamics it seeks to confront. The questions that this article pose are: How does one attend to the needs of the individual alongside the challenges set forth by the group without the requirement to balance failure and breakdown against success and coherence? What processes might facilitate this balance? From within the conditions of certain types of failure, in which discord runs high and the individual self lacks cohesion, poetic, relational networks arise. Such networks include in their processes the shadowy, unnerving aspects of discord along with the sharing of capacities. This article argues that, beyond the intentions of collaborative partners or the institutions hosting them, shared labor opens ways to contend with difference as creative material and not just as that which opposes normality. The author considers a number of artists' groups, projects, and collaborative methods in which the subject slips out of a volitional, rational place to demonstrate how difficult creative networks can give rise to strange processes of what she calls “trans-subjectivity.” The author accounts for situated styles of collaborative practice wherein the radicalized subject can creatively, unexpectedly, and continuously develop beyond the confines of institutional power.

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