Group and Gang (The Absent Collective)

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2007 John Chilver / Afterall Online

The trouble with the group is there is always someone who wants to be the leader. To prove exemplary as a communal organization, the group must withstand threats from within, produced by the contest for charismatic pre-eminence among members. So then, why do groups work fine elsewhere but not in visual art? Is the music group somehow less prone than the art group to individual megalomania, or do its pathways reward such a hierarchy? In tracking these questions below, I will describe the functioning of the group with respect to the ontological grounds of distinct artforms. These considerations will have consequences for the latent narratives of conflict and competition within the group. Later the discussion wanders into addressing group agency in relation to the internet.