Woody Allen’s 2011 film, Midnight in Paris, is a story about a young man in the present day who romanticizes the surrealist and artistic era of the 1920s in Paris.
During a trip to the French capital, our protagonist attempts to escape the nauseating high society antics of his all-American fiancée in the evenings so instead goes for strolls around the Latin quarter. However, each night at midnight, he finds himself transported to his favourite era – the 1920s.
We follow our protagonist through various exciting and appropriately ‘roaring’ adventures, from parties with the famous Fitzgerald’s to collaborative artistic discussions in cafés with Picasso, Dali and Gertrude Stein. To bring it back to our topic today, this era is romanticized by many an artist – including Woody Allen – because of its collective artistic spirit. The 1920s was an era of collective togetherness through which iconic and moving art was produced. It was also one of the first decades that saw interracial mixing in the arts in Europe with African-American artists like Louis Armstrong, James Balwin (though this was later in the 40s) and Josephine Baker collaborating with the likes of Cole Porter and other white French and American artists.
It seems as if collaboration in the arts is a very modern topic, particularly in music. Doja Cat recently opened up in an interview with Apple Music stating “everybody needs to collaborate these days […] if you look at Prince or Michael Jackson’s work it was usually just them, and they did fine!” This shows that many artists feel a need rather than a want to collaborate at times because it seems on-trend or perhaps because, in a digital world, audience crossovers really can only be achieved via collaboration. However, creative collaboration really is as old as creativity. Every creation has a reference point, redrafts and reviews and these can only come from exterior perspectives.
Perhaps the recent desire for collaboration stems from – you guessed it – the pandemic’s effect on our inability to achieve connection in person and thus artists’ desires to collaborate in the studio couldn’t be met and therefore became evermore tantalizing. It is also because of the pandemic that we are becoming used to collaboration via resourceful mediums which allow us to collaborate with anyone from pretty much anywhere. Softwares such as ‘muse sessions’ – almost like a Zoom for musicians and music producers – are allowing artists to get closer and closer to that in-person feel over wifi and multiple screens.
The future of collaboration is thus the future of work – particularly in the creative field. Creative work cannot exist without collaboration and in a world where the metaverse and AI are threatening many a livelihood, collaboration and collective creativity are what will rise from the ashes when it comes to claiming autonomy over our beautifully human abilities and skills.