Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist game based on the game of “Consequences”, a children’s game with too complicated a name for any of us to remember that it ever had a name. Complicated though the name might be, it’s easy enough for a child to play. Take a piece of paper, fold it in thirds, draw a neck over the top fold and a waist over the bottom fold, and pass the piece of paper around a group of three artists. The first artist draws the head, then folds the paper back so the second artist cannot see his work. The second artist draws the torso, and then folds the paper back so the third artist cannot see her work. The third artist draws the legs, and then unfolds the paper to reveal the entire body. Usually grotesque, always exquisite, and something so unique that it could never have been made by one hand alone.
This is the new collaboration.
The old collaboration tells us that we must soften our opinions and methods of working to accommodate others. If we are collaborating in art, we need to hold back our ideas and our passions to make sure that it matches what the other artists want to do. If we are collaborating on a committee, we must always be ready to compromise our own ideals and goals so that the group may move forward. If we are talking politics, we need to hold back our most extreme ideas.
…or if we don’t we surely will create a divide.
Several years ago, my family agreed that we would not talk politics when we got together. Politics is the divide the separates us, and talking about it only drives the wedge in deeper expanding the separation. Families that cannot do that are irreparably damaged, as are friendships and marriages.
The new collaboration tells us that we must pursue our passions and our ideals and be unafraid of diving into collaboration with those that think differently. In the Exquisite Corpse one artist can draw a street lamp as a head and not worry about whether his collaborator will be drawing a lamppost or a ape’s body. We can create with such fearlessness and power, because we know that the fold on the paper is what joins us…not what separates us. Committees that cannot soften their opinions and passions turn into shouting matches because they have nothing to join them, they have no folds. Individuality is then denounced rather than praised, and without the folds to join them the “forced agreement” creates a greater divide than “embraced individuality”. Can the same happen with friends and family? Can we create folds between us that join us rather than chasms that separate us?
It’s worth trying.