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Chapter 2: The Study Center for Group Work
The Study Center for Group Work is both an online resource and an informal network of artists who gather to study practices of collaboration. The Center exists to cultivate behaviors that allow groups to gather together and has been directed by founder Caroline Woolard since 2015.
Listening and looking are forms of artistic attention. Collaboration requires both. What kinds of listening and looking are provoked by contemporary artworks? How can we develop capacities of listening and looking that enable us to become more nuanced critics and practitioners of collaborative work? The Study Center for Group Work starts with the premise that certain practices and tools can offer an experience of collaborative time, a time which is specifically marked by our engagement with one another.
At the invitation of curator Stamatina Gregory, Woolard created a social space called WOUND: The Study Center for Group Work at Cooper Union. At Cooper Union, the Center offered trainings in practices of listening, attention, and collaboration using sculptural tools for communication that have been developed by artists who work in groups. The exhibition presented a library of collaborative tools that visitors could check out and use, including “Threeing sticks” made by artists Jean Gardner and Paul Ryan. The group Project 404 taught visitors how to sustain attention with imagery by focusing on a single image on their smartphones, and the Design Studio for Social Intervention offered workshops with the artist Judith Leemann on the power of unconventional analogy in speech and in drawing. The collective Ultra-red offered workshops on modes of listening.
The Study Center for Group Work starts with the premise that certain practices and tools can offer an experience of collaborative time, a time which is specifically marked by our engagement with one another.
Since 2015, members of the Center have convened to share their methods and to make them freely available online. Portions of the Center have travelled to the Glasgow School of Art, Tenthaus in Oslo, and the Free Library of Philadelphia. See The Meeting, see chapter 1, for objects that Woolard has developed to facilitate dialogue, in collaboration with the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Ombudspeople at Brandeis University, and labor union organizers in Chicago.