Collapse Art Group: ‘Co-art helps to hear your own voice’

Artists typically work solo to keep their inspiration and success to themselves. However, sometimes they come together in art groups, as the collaborative effect can offer a fresh perspective on creativity. This fall the gallery Morfi hosted the first exhibition of the art group Collapse, bringing together three diverse artists — Skolzki, Sasha Slepchuk, and Masha Adamova. ARTNOW Magazine met with them to discuss their working process, the quest for shared solutions, and the essence of creativity.

— When did the idea of joining an art group first cross your mind?


Мasha (M): It was Sasha’s idea.

Sasha (S): Last fall I felt a little lonely so I called guys for coffee and suggested to draw together. I was half-expecting to hear, “Are you out of your mind? We've got kids and jobs!” But surprisingly the guys agreed to try.


— What does the term Collapse mean to you and how did you come up with it? 


М: From the very beginning we were nameless. After about four months of working together, we began to talk about this.

Dima Skolzki (D): Sasha was into the name Snezhana Borisova, for example. I thought, if we're going with Snezhana Borisova, let's create a kind of meta-personality that does it all.

М: At some point, I suggested calling our art group Collapse, and for some reason, everyone got on board. Maybe not enthusiastically at first, but the name grew on us. It reflects our dynamic — everyone puts something of their own into it. Personally, it symbolizes a situation that knocks you down, unsettles you, and how you creatively navigate your way out of it.

D: I see Collapse as the meeting point of inner worlds.

S: For me, it’s a complex term, drawing from physics and medicine.


— Each of you has your own recognizable style. What's it like to start working together?


М: Sasha came up and said, “Let’s create something,” Dima echoed, “Yes, we need to figure something out urgently,” and then I joined in, asking, “Guys, can I just not think at all?”

D: Yeah, that’s right. Masha always refused any reflection during the process. According to her, “When I work, I don’t think at all, it's either one or the other,” while Sasha was bursting with ideas.


— How frequently and where did you guys create together?


D: During the initial months, we met regularly, around once every two weeks, in a studio which I had rented.

M: Sasha forced us to schedule the next meeting date and we did our best to follow the plan.

S: Well, everyone has their own personal life, and it played a role, so we had a few small breaks here and there.


— How long did each session last, and what did you manage to achieve during this time?


D: Usually we gather around 6 pm, start sketching by 6:30 pm, and wrap up around 10 pm. We work with different types of mediums — A3 and A5 graphic papers, canvas pieces, big and small ones — experimenting every day. For example, with papers we set a one-minute timer, each grabbed a sheet and worked for a minute, then passed it to another until one of us felt the piece was ready. Other times, we created something from scratch or brought works from home to collaborate on, passing them around to add our touches.

M: By the end of four hours, we were exhausted.

D: To be fair, there were a couple of meetings when we did nothing, just chatted.

M: We didn't impose strict limits on ourselves. Some days were productive, others lazy, and a lot of work went down the drain. There were days when we looked at what we'd done and realized it was utter rubbish. But we didn't let that stop us; we kept going.


— Who decided when an artwork was considered finished?


S: It was a collective decision!

M: It really depended on personal feeling, someone might get tired or say, “I’m done,” but that didn’t mean that others had to stop too. They could keep going, or even redo everything.

D: We had situations where we were finalizing a piece, and suddenly Masha would say, “There’s something missing here, give me a piece of paper, I want to stick it.” There were sessions when the game had stricter rules — we passed a sheet of paper and took turns drawing. When this sheet reached you, and there was nothing more to add, the artwork was considered ready. In that case, one person made the call.

— Were there any challenges in working together? How did you handle conflicts, if there were any?


D: I yelled, Sasha cried, and Masha took out a knife (laughs).

M: Right from the start, we agreed that everyone could do whatever they wanted, with no limits or instructions like "Hey, you've gone too far here" or "I don't like that colour" or "Don't do that again." Of course, we had some intense discussions, moments of shock, and times when we hated what was happening. However, it was never a serious critique of each other's creativity. If someone didn't like something, it didn't mean the other artist had to stop. If I wanted to fix something, I fixed it myself, or I didn't fix it at all.

S: Being a part of any art group, you should remember that no one's forcing you to stay; you can get up and leave. And you think, “No, I’ll stick around.”

M: Sasha would always say, "I have a feeling you won't show up next time." But we kept coming back!

D: I like that we come together and express ourselves with complete freedom, just the way we want. There's a shared responsibility, so you can do something a bit nasty, and another person will understand and correct it. Thanks to this, everything that's inside you comes out without restrictions. There's probably a little secret in that.

M: When we work together, it's pure experimentation in a safe and comfortable space. And nothing bad happens to you for it.


— So, it was more about liberation rather than restriction?


S: Absolutely. We talked a lot about how diverse we are, and we were keen on picking up something from each other. That’s exactly what happened during this year.

D: Collaborating with others allows you to understand yourself better, to really hear the sound of your own voice.


— Why did you choose the name FIXED CLOUD for your first exhibition?


S: We wanted to sum up the results of the first year of collaboration. To me, what we create is like a cloud. When you observe clouds from above, they are a mass constantly evolving, stretching, and changing shape. That's why it felt so important to hit pause and take a snapshot of the ongoing process.

D and M: It's exactly the same for us; there's nothing more to add.

— Any plans for the future?


D: We've got a few ideas to experiment with new materials, but for now, it's hush-hush.

All together: One thing for sure — we don't want to stop, that's the main thing.

Get to know more about 6 world-famous art groups here

See Collapse Art Group's online catalogue here