Franklin Collective

Recontextualizing the way art is made





What is Franklin Collective?

Franklin Collective, the new collective, is a collaborative entity founded by British artist Mark John Smith and American artist Matt Whitman. Franklin Collective (FC) occupies a third space for these Brooklyn-based artists, a space that can exist as potentiality, a becoming-entity that shifts to the provisional needs of the practice. Franklin is gallery. Franklin is network as sculpture. Franklin is jointly seeing. Franklin is studio practice.

The movement and network of Franklin exists alongside the idea of immanence. The actual focus of the entity is not upon entity at all, but rather on individuations, movements, social vectors, that exist without subject – identity as action. These are phenomena that simply become as needed, as response, precluding ego.

Franklin exists as a critique of the fixation upon ‘the singular’ in so many aspects of contemporary society, and more: in the worlds of contemporary art. Because the ’identity’ of Franklin is, in a sense, a non-identity – or perhaps a multiplicity – issues of accountability, agency, authorship become non-targets for the audience. Rather than focusing on something as simple as ‘the artist’ or ‘the hero’ and all of the singular tropes that the viewer of contemporary art knows so well, the collective is a requirement of troubling the viewer’s location of any actual ‘identity’ in the work. As such, the focus of the work becomes the work itself along with its conceptual underpinnings, rather than a fixation on the authorship and the ‘origin’ of the work.

Capitalism insists upon the individual furthering oneself and appearing to play a productive and contributing role in society – using whatever resources one can acquire on one’s own and using them to the greatest extent possible. As a result, accountability has to remain with the ‘one’.

If you have amassed it, you deserve it.

The collective is without body, it exists as a pool. Resource necessary to further the collective, is sourced as needed and continuously replenishable and re-shapable as the collective is able subsume anything and everything that it touches.

What does Franklin Collective do?

Franklin creates artworks that exist in the context in which they are synthesized and founded. For instance, in the work created for Instagram titled @frnklncllctv, Franklin Collective has an Instagram account consisting of 8716 followers (as of Jul 26, 2015) and a post reading: “all our follower s are fake” [sic]. This work pulls into question the gravitas of following versus follower and the tension that exists between the two as well as the ‘legitimacy’ of being legitimized by social media followers. As systems of non-relation such as Instagram (existing outside of actual experience) yield consequences bearing weight on actual experience, the obsession with tiering and compartmentalization (particularly in terms that can be monetized) allow for a further corruption of both the actual and non-actual ‘experience’. For instance, the ability to purchase followers and likes on networks such as Instagram. Importantly, the work is not extracted from its form, but proliferates within the locus of its creation. A viewer can follow Franklin Collective, like a post by Franklin Collective, and contribute to precisely the issues and questions that the work involves.

Dreamlinear is another such collaborative piece created by Franklin Collective. Using digitally scanned film footage and found imagery, the work explores the ongoing tension between the assumed non-physicality of the digital image and the inherent materiality of the filmic image (albeit, a ghosted materiality at a time when film must be preserved and even viewed as a digital file). Also present at the heart of this dialectic is the question of aura. Does a lack of materiality exclusively constitute a flatness and non-presence? The latest Boeing aircraft, the Dreamliner: the world’s first all-composite aircraft exemplifies our obsession with reduction of mass and the drive to diminish the burden of physical trace.

“From within Franklin Collective’s third space, vulnerabilities and character flaws usually associated with one’s ego are, in fact, celebrated, dismantled, and reconstructed into something proactive – something to be celebrated. This is exciting. Currently, the world needs more collectives.”

“Franklin Collective employs humor in a way that’s not ironic but as a tool to engage and invoke a response from an audience that is inordinately disenchanted with so aspects of contemporary ilife, at the moment.”

“Within the shroud of the collective, innumerable reconfigurations of identity are possible. At any particular moment, three, thirty, forty some individuals might name themselves as existing as Franklin Collective. We can become a patchwork, an assemblage. As contemporary issues and contemporary needs change and evolve, so to does the network that comprises the collective.”

– Franklin Collective