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The Power of the Artistic Duo

Our November 2016 issue featured a number of creatives who work in pairs to produce poignant collaborative work. Visual artists Maja and Gerhard Marx, who is also a renowned sculptor and filmmaker, have two very successful and separate careers, but being married with children means their practices often overlap. We sat down with this powerful pair to find out more about their individual careers as well as their joint ventures. How did you meet? In 1995 Maja was living in an old forestry house in the mountains. Gerhard was hitchhiking solo. It’s a long story, but Gerhard knocked on Maja’s door late one night and she made him tea and oats. What is your working relationship like? We both work constantly on our own individual projects but it all overlaps unofficially, as we’re always involved in what the other is making through discussion, mutual interest and the inevitable sharing of space. Sometimes it officially overlaps: we have created public artworks and a fair number of performances and films together. One of the most significant to us is the Paper Pigeon sculpture in Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg. How is intellectual property considered? When collaborating, both parties need to remain aware of the negotiation between ownership and sharing. The challenge is to respect each collaborator’s territory and to create something that could not have been possible were it made by an individual.

Paper Pigeon, a sculptural collaboration by Maja and Gerhard Marx. Image Credit: Newtown Heritage Trail Paper Pigeon, a sculptural collaboration by Maja and Gerhard Marx. Image Credit: Newtown Heritage Trail

What are the benefits of working together? We’re always interwoven in each other’s processes. That is the nature of being two artists raising kids together. We feel privileged to get the opportunity to engage with each other on different levels as part of a life of making things. Do you see yourselves creating work together in the future? Right now, with the intensity of our domestic world, we both find the privacy of our own practices very attractive. We both enjoy the luxury of our own studio environments, even if it is just a desk or a moment to yourself. But this will shift, curiosity will get the better of us, and then there will be new projects and collaborations. Discover more artist duos in the HL November 2016 issue.