With the decline of the artist-as-genius paradigm in the second half of the 20th century, authorship and inspiration faded out of relevance as the main elements characterizing the figure of the artist, who came to be seen as a kind of producer (Walter Benjamin); an ethnographer (Hal Foster); or, in recent years, a “cultural mediator” or “instigator”. Within Neoliberal capitalism, individual authorship is linked to competition and hierarchies structured by the success/ failure dichotomy. As a result, in recent decades theoretical explorations of authorship and non-authorship have examined the issues involved in creativity: how, why and by whom new ideas are generated, patented and exploited; who profits from symbolic capital or from the productions of communal art. Under the banner of non-authorship, certain projects aspire to forms of cooperation that contribute to collective structural change. From this perspective, creative processes should involve multiple authoring, combining different people’s abilities and cognitive skills within systems where work should ideally be organised on non-hierarchical, participatory, negotiation-based principles, so that everyone takes part in decision-making, and shares the profits of collective work. Although individual authorship is not likely to ever disappear- as it probably answers to basic human needs-, new forms of collective authorship are on the horizon.
Genealogies of practice
Colectivo de Cine de Clase (“Class Cinema Collective”) (España / Spain) The Class Cinema Collective, launched by Helena Lumbreras y Mariano Lisa, was a pioneering initiative within Spanish militant feminist cinema, as well as in the context of working class struggles and collective spaces of social resistance. As Lisa explains, “In O todos o ninguno (‘All or None’) (1975-76), we decided that everyone working in the film had to appear on camera and introduce themselves- even the workers, as a challenge to power. It was a way of saying ‘the working class is not afraid. We are going to be out on the streets and we are going to be on the screens. Here we stand- you can arrest us and take us to prison, but you’ll have to jail the whole lot of us, because all of us working in the film are responsible for it’. That was the first time we used the term ‘Class Collective’, and we kept it in our next film A la vuelta del grito (‘Around the Scream’) (1977-78)“. (Interview with Mariano Lisa, in María C. Vela, “Entre la esperanza y el desencanto. El cine militante de Helena Lumbreras”, in D.Aranda, M.Esquirol, J. Sánchez-Navarro [eds.] Puntos de Vista: Una mirada poliédrica de la historia del cine [Barcelona: UOC, 2009]; Eng. trans. by José M. Bueso).
Colectivo Cine sin Autor. España, “Cinema without an Author” (CwA) is a socio-cinematic mode of production that makes films with people normally excluded from, or unconnected with, cinematic representation and audiovisual production. The key to the CwA method is the Non-authoring approach, whereby the film crew does not hold rights of ownership over filmed capital, but gradually collectivizes the whole production and distribution process. This strategy is aimed at breaking away from both professional expert authority and private property-related authorship. For political reasons, CwA places (operationally collective) cinematic know-how in the service of social, not private, benefits, assisting all those groups of people who may be seeking to organize themselves collectively to take control of their own representation. The CwA Factory, established in 2011, is located at the Intermediae experimental art space (within Matadero Cultural Centre) in Madrid.