Panel Four: ‘The Third Hand’—Claire, Bernadette and Friends

Thursday 1 December, 7pm GMT

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Discussants: Helena Reckitt, Chris McCormack, Gerrie van Noord.

Moderator: Lina Dzuverovic

Keywords: collaboration, collective, fictional entities, erasure, identity, the self, the third hand, anonymity, editing, translation, co-writing.

BIRMAC and Art Monthly, in association with Electra present:

One of four discussions within the research project  ‘And Others: The Gendered Politics and Practices of Art Collectives’ which investigates different questions central to collective work. Building on two months of asynchronous collective writing, involving seventeen participants, the panelists below consider how we might write, think, read and practice together through other means.

Considering the deliberate erasure of individual identities, this panel combines two interwoven lines of enquiry. Firstly, it considers a particular approach to working collectively, one in which the identities of each individual artist involved are deliberately obfuscated, forming a singular, newly created artist with their own name and a distinct, manufactured identity—what Charles Green terms the ‘third hand’. Relatedly, it also addresses how new voices are woven into form through the processes both of collaborative writing and of editing—exploring these as two related lines of inquiry; not least as artist collectives forming ‘third hand’ entities also often operate via the production and distribution of publications. 

The first stream departs from Charles Green’s term ‘the third hand’, exploring his claim that such modifications of authorship supersede the subjectivities of individual creators. In doing so it also addresses what is gained by the creation of a named entity, particularly when this constitutes a full name and surname—often framed as an attempt to ‘beat the enemy at their own game’, by creating a marketable and commodifiable product. What is interesting, but also puzzling, is that in these practices of over-identification with the art establishment’s desire, the collective relies on both a deliberate obfuscation of individuality, and a simultaneous willingness for individuals to be named in association with these entities. Does the new entity, a ‘readymade artist’ (term used by Claire Fontaine) transcend the subjectivities of its makers, or is its only hope to forever ventriloquise its makers’ visions? What is achieved through such a strategy—does the apparent preservation of anonymity and the careful distancing of individuals forming the collective from the creative outputs that ensue make for a more egalitarian and inclusive working process? 

The second stream asks how collaborative writing experiences—in their potential for development in co-authored texts, as well as within theories of translation —shape the forming of a new voice through editorial work; how in both instances (collaborative writing/translation, and editing) the text begins to acquire a new voice through the process, freed by a relative level of anonymity. What are the possibilities and limitations of such writing, what does it enable and free up for authors, and what limitations might it bring? How does anonymity relate to both aspects of harmonising ‘voice’ or authorship, and how does this enable risk-taking on the one hand, and the consecration and circulation of political tracts on the other? 

The panel conversation will be followed by an informal Q&A with the audience.  

Please note all events within this series will be recorded.


Chris McCormack 

Chris McCormack is a writer and associate editor of Art Monthly. He has programmed numerous talks and events, including ‘The Producers’, in collaboration Newcastle University and ‘Art Criticism and the Pandemic’ for the Paul Mellon Centre, London. He is the editor of Charlotte Prodger’s monograph (Koenig), commissioning editor of ON&BY Andy Warhol (MIT/Whitechapel) and has contributed numerous essays and texts for catalogues, including James Richards’s Requests and Antisongs  Queer Spaces (RIBA), Creating Dangerously (Sharjah Art Foundation) and The Heart of Another Country (Deichtorhallen Hamburg). He has collaborated with numerous artists including Hilary Lloyd, Oreet Ashery and Ursula Mayer, while his research into vocal development was published as part of Richards’s Welsh Pavilion in Venice, Voce di testa, he also curated the exhibition and edited the book Anarchic sexual desires of plain unmarried schoolteachers.

Gerrie van Noord

Gerrie van Noord is a freelance editor and educator. Following a variety of roles at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (1988-1992) and de Appel Foundation (1992-1996) in Amsterdam, she was Head of Publishing at London-based commissioning organisation Artangel (1997-2002), project manager for the first official independent Scottish presence at the Venice Biennale (2003), and commissioning editor of a series titled Fabrications published by Book Works (2006-2009). Although now mainly engaging with one-off projects, she has longer term collaborations with several artists, arts organisations and education institutions, including PARSE Journal, for which she has been a copy-editor and proofer since issue #3. Recently she was the managing editor of a series of anthologies edited by Paul O’Neill, Lucy Steeds, Mick Wilson and Simon Sheikh – The Curatorial Conundrum (2016), How Institutions Think (2017) and Curating after the Global (2019) – published by The MIT Press. Gerrie has contributed as a Visiting Lecturer to the MFA at the Glasgow School of Art (2003-2015) and was an Associate Lecturer at the MA Arts Policy & Management at Birkbeck, University of London (2006-2019). Currently she is a Visiting Lecturer on the MA Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London. She recently completed a practice-led PhD (Birkbeck, 2022), which focused on publications and their role in and contribution to curatorial practice and discourse. For information on current and past projects, see her website.

Helena Reckitt

Helena Reckitt is Reader in Curating in the Art Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has held curatorial and programming posts at The Power Plant, Toronto, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Georgia, and the ICA, London, and was a commissioning editor in film and performance studies at Routledge, London. Editor of Art and Feminism (Phaidon, 2001), Acting on AIDS (Serpent’s Tail, 1997, with Joshua Oppenheimer), and Sanja Iveković: Unknown Heroine (Calvert 22, 2013), she was Consultant Editor for the Tate/Chronicle Books survey The Art of Feminism: The Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality (2018, French edition 2019; revised edition 2022). With Jennifer Fisher she co-edited issues of the Journal of Curatorial Studies on ‘Curating and Affect’ and ‘Museums and Affect,’ 2016, and, with Dorothee Richter, an issue of OnCurating on ‘Instituting Feminism,’ 2021. Since 2015 she has coordinated the Feminist Duration Reading Group, a monthly gathering dedicated to under-represented feminisms. She is exploring approaches from life writing in her critical and curatorial texts, having received an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths in 2021.