Julie Montgarrett and Ruth Hadlow
working blind is both a collaboration and a ‘conversation’ between the two artists documented via emails and text (in the form of ever expanding word documents) and night drawings (worked over the printed text) as a kind of circular correspondence over a period of fifteen months between July 2007 and October 2008.
The initial subject of the proposed collaboration was the process(es) by which ideas are developed both as text and as image/object. Both artists are involved with the idea of working blind – of not knowing quite what will emerge as ideas and possibilities are questioned and teased out over time. Ruth Hadlow said in conversation in August, 2008 ‘the business of working blind is more about letting things find their way, come to the surface quietly and subtly. Following things instinctively.’
The collaboration is therefore process driven and initially identifies collaboration as a form of conversation which, by default, is a critique of both of these conventions as a means of developing ideas.
The conversation tracks the similarities and differences of this idea for each artist. The intersection of text and drawings made in the dark, represents the multiple crossings; connections and differences in understanding for each artist of what it means to be “working blind’. The conversation has been delayed by circumstance; shaped by available technologies; drawn-out by call and response; redirected by readings and discovery; teased out by questioning and like all good conversations (and many working processes) there is no conclusion, it is on-going and unfolding. It shifts and re-shapes itself over time as each artist searches in the dark for the right meaning and form. Margaret Atwood wrote in the introduction, ‘Into the Labyrinth’ from ‘Negotiating With the Dead 1 that the process of writing was a kind of ‘writing in the dark’ or if you will, a working blind. The introduction concluded, that the process involved “obstruction, obscurity, emptiness, disorientation, twilight, blackout, often combined with a struggle or path or journey - an inability to see one’s way forward, but a feeling that there was a way forward, and that the act of going forward would eventually bring about the conditions for vision...Possibly then, writing has to do with the darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it and, with luck, to illuminate it and to bring something back out into the light.”
Margaret Atwood (2002) Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing. Cambridge University Press.