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The Non-Creation of Artworks

To deny that an artist does art would be absurd. To deny that an artist does art by making artworks, however, is possible. First of all, artworks or works of art may be not only physical, but performative. In that sense, to be a non-creator-of-artwork artist would imply either the rejection of the artwork or the non-creation of it. An artist could reject his or her production as art. An artist could avoid making art by never delivering its final result or by attributing it to others. This last possibility defines my artistic practice.

I am a collaborative artist not because I create collaborative artworks, but because I engage in collaborative creations that in the end cannot be attributed to me. Final creations could only be attributed to the collective artistic processes that I promote, not even the collective as a determined group, given that it changes constantly and becomes an entity whose I belong to, but it is not me.

In that sense, I reject the question “do you create works of art?” by not attributing the result to myself, letting the collaborative process become the final representative of any result that may be deemed to be called “art”. In a way, even not doing nothing at all could be seen as a vital performance and thus a work of art. To that end, I am not the one to judge what could be art or not, as it depends of multiple poles. I can, however, identify the pole from which I stand by promoting collaborative art.

To explain my artistic approach, it is necessary to use the theory of diamonds from the realm of aesthetics. Following Nicolai Hartmann, since the beautiful, for its essence itself, is always related to an intuitive subject, there are, from the beginning, two possible directions to follow: it can be done from the object aesthetic the matter of the analysis or from the act whose object is. Both axes are subdivided. As regards the object, its structure and way of being or its aesthetic character can be investigated, and thus also the analysis of the act can be directed to the receptive act of the beholder or to the producing act of the creator. In that sense, I only exemplify one pole of the theory, represented by the artist. However, in my situation, “artist” should be substituted by “collective creation”, loosing even that first pole its creation-based properties.
Then, what the collective may generate, may or not be deemed as art by the receptors, but that would be only part of the subjective spectrum of the artistic process of interaction, and so it is not definitive to attribute any character to the pole represented by the collective.

Beyond that question a second one is “how do you do art?”. Based on that theory of diamonds, the interaction between creators and receptors is mediated by the object. This object, from the discipline of aesthetics, is simultaneously a structure and a compound of values. The structure depends directly from the creator, but values are already there. No artist can properly produce values, he or she or, in my case the “collective process”, can match them, see them. Values are, then, a co-generator of the artistic result.
My artistic practice, in that sense, focuses on generating the collaborative art scenes where current values may be discussed and put in place, which later on originates a result that does not belong to any of the participants. Contrary to the individualistic and genius-based current contemporary trends of competition, I am focused on the mere values of organizing collectives to reflect and take action, as a way of doing art irrespectively of the result, if it becomes real in the end.

I naturally boost artistic processes around values that co-exist with us, tensioning them through the mixture of different artistic disciplines. I tend to not become more than the catalyst of artistic action, embracing the processes for their inner virtues and the benefits they bring to society (solidarity, reflection, empathy or equality, for example).

As poetry bases my approach when setting up collaborations, I am considered an emerging visual artist or visual poet, and that is what the receptor-based media shows (Instagram, Webpages, Twitter). The reception pole. However, as I could not project my statement in that fora, given its uselessness against utilitarian media, I look for new forms of exhibition and collaboration contexts where I can share this unconventional artistic approach, beyond the commercial and marketing-based hierarchy of art that affects us all.
Future art will require re-understanding art as a collective endeavour for which cooperation is essential, through the integration of artistic disciplines, incorporating technology to both the techniques and the content of production, not creation. The morality of artistic means, which justifies the result, and not vice versa. Artists as non-public curators.

That will lead us to the present debate about the future ways of collaboration that we want to achieve by living as if art required no artworks.


A Brussels-based Spanish artist, Manuel Delgado is a visual poet. He aims to develop expansive and innovative modes of writing about, with and as art by integrating poetry with other disciplines. After studying Law and Political Science and completing an MA in International Relations at the Spanish Diplomatic School in Madrid, Manuel pursued another MA in European Political Studies at the College of Europe in Bruges. In that sense, Manuel is an outsider collaborative artist.