Đuro Seder: The Collective Work (1963)

Đuro Seder, “Collective Work,” 1963, response to Gorgona group’s homework assignment question: Is it possible to make a collective work?


Collective Work is the complete opposite of the efforts we are constantly making as individuals: to affirm the person, who is confirmed and realised in the individual work. The individual only testifies to his/her own destiny, because he/she can not testify to someone else’s without being untruthful and artificial.
Do I still desire a Collective Work?
I do.
Is Collective Work possible?
I suppose that it would require a common goal and an equality of thought and will. Kindred feelings. And some, at least minimal, common enthusiasm. A ‘constructive’ Collective Work certainly also demands a certain common program of action.


First project

Collective Work is secretly creeping between our hands and furtively entering through the door of Šira’s Salon. It is assembling its parts in great secrecy, gathering the pieces into an indistinct whole, full of a certain meaning.
At night it inadvertedly falls apart and looks for itself again, because it does not yet know its collective essence. For several days it sleeps restlessly, dreams unconnected pictures and gradually transforms itself into a finished work (Šira still knows nothing about it). Just before the opening it tries to run away, but Šira, who has in the meantime found out, locks the salon. On the opening day the Collective Work is very downcast and pale, almost invisible, heterogeneous, it hardly exists. None of the visitors pay any attention to it, although they are all in very good spirits. During the following days the Collective Work is devoured by a secret illness, it suffers complete memory loss and melts away like a piece of snow in the street. When the exhibition closes it no longer exists. All that remains is a small pool of liquid in one corner of the salon. Its wake is celebrated.

Second project

The Collective work is produced as follows.
On the first day the first Gorgonian enters the salon (they come in alphabetical order or else lots are cast) and starts the Collective Work.
On the second day the second Gorgonian enters and continues the Collective Work.
On the third day the third Gorgonian enters and does the same.
On the fourth day the fourth Gorgonian creates the Collective Work.
On the fifth day the fifth, and on the sixth day the sixth Gorgonian.
On the seventh day the seventh Gorgonian.
The next three days are reserved for Gorgonians who may as yet be unknown and who may want to participate.
After this the Collective Work is finished.
A guarantee of secrecy is essential to this project. None of the Gorgonians have any idea of what their predecessors did. Absolute freedom of movement is allowed.
On the opening day the the Collective Work amazes its creators and the public.
Šira is desperate.

Third project

The Collective Work is commissioned in an unknown workshop and the young secretary there sends word that it is finished. On the opening day all the Gorgonians, with the help of Nikola, carefully bring the Collective work into the salon. The invitations have been sent and Mikac has already distributed the posters. At the last moment they discover, to their horror, that the Collective Work is too big to be brought in through the door. During the general consternation amongst the authors and the guests, in the traffic jam caused by the Collective Work, it is decided to postpone the exhibition.

Fourth project

The Collective Work is finished. The exhibition was held long ago and we move on to discuss the possibilities of other important undertakings.

Collective Work has no face.
Collective Work can not speak.
Collective Work does not know its beginning, it only has an end.
Collective work cannot be seen as a form, only as an effort.
The final appearance of Collective Work is of no consequence at all.

Source of translation (with additional editing by Ivana Bago): Marija Gattin (ed.), Gorgona (Zagreb: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2002)