Push Me, Pull You: Questions of Co-authorship

During the summer of 2012, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage investigated various issues surrounding (co-)authorship in cultural production, in a series of articles called Push Me, Pull You. This project asked questions around definitions of authorship, collaboration within and across disciplines, audience participation, overlaps between curation and artistic production, and the influence of marketplace and other arbiters of control, among other concepts. As part of the Center’s interest in investigating issues of cultural practice—particularly those that manifest themselves across disciplines—we initiated and propelled conversation around this topic to ascertain emerging challenges and opportunities for practitioners and organizations, and to discuss how we can learn from these commonalities as we look to the future of arts and culture.

Throughout the run of Push Me, Pull You, we asked thought leaders and cultural practitioners from across the country to share their thoughts about the ever-evolving subject of (co-)authorship in cultural production. The contributors tackled questions related to definitions of authorship, collaboration within and across disciplines, audience participation, overlaps between curation and artistic production, and the influence of marketplace and other arbiters of control, among other concepts. Below is the full list of interviews, all of which were published originally on the Center website:

Kenneth Goldsmith
Visual artist-turned-writer, founding editor of UbuWeb, senior editor of PennSound, professor at the University of Pennsylvania
“Faced with an unprecedented amount of available digital text, our problem is not that we need to write more of it; instead, we must learn to negotiate the vast quantity that exists.”
Read more >

Michael Rohd
Founding Artistic Director, Sojourn Theatre
“Though there is power in the expression of singular voices and visions, I find the world far too complex to wrestle with and articulate the matters I want to explore without the collision of other brains, hearts, and experiences.”
Read more >

Roxane Gay
Writer and essayist, co-editor of PANK, essays editor for The Rumpus, HTMLGIANT contributor
“The cult of the writer is such that we very much want to know works of literary merit can be traced to a single source. We want to believe in the idea of literary genius as singular.”
Read more >

Cassie Chinn
Executive Director, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
“It will take time to get to know one another, energy to come to consensus, and effort to make room for all to have shared ownership, but in the end, it’s worth it. Together, we are stronger.”
Read more >

Krithika Rajagopalan
Associate Artistic Director and principal dancer, Natya Dance Theatre
“The same dance, with the same music today can be a completely different choreography tomorrow, as movement becomes very improvisational and has its own free spirit.”
Read more >

Jerry Yoshitomi
Chief Knowledge Officer, MeaningMatters, LLC
“It’s not about arts organizations co-authoring relationships; it’s about providing the opportunity for participants to co-author meaning through the art they create.”
Read more >

Kristin Van Loon and Arwen Wilder
Choreographic collaborators, HIJACK
“Our dances embrace juxtaposition. Believing work left in dialogue form opens itself to dialogue with the audience, we present two individuals’ points-of-view, yet unreconciled.”
Read more >

Dorothy Noyes
Director, Center for Folklore Studies at Ohio State University
“The challenges of social coexistence not only shape folklore genres as form, but furnish much of their subject matter.”
Read more >

Nate Wooley
Jazz trumpeter, composer, editor of Sound American, manager of DRAM (Database of Recorded American Music)
“Due to the improvisatory nature of [jazz], co-authorship seems more natural as the performer is given latitude by jazz’s history and philosophy to make drastic performative choices with the given material.”
Read more >

MiJin Hong
Director of Academic Affairs and Program Development, Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University
“Museum leaders need to ‘create’ their opportunities; they need to be open to seeing and sensing their world differently in order to receive and feel anew—and reinvent.”
Read more >

Ain Gordon
Obie Award-winning writer, director, and actor; 2011–13 Visiting Artist at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
“I don’t wish to assert co-authorship everywhere, only to audibly/visually annotate the vast physical and ideological ‘population’ inside the many forms of mono-authorship.”
Read more >

Collaborators & Colleagues

Cathy Stanton is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Tufts University and an active public historian. She served as a 2015 LOI panelist in Exhibitions & Public Interpretation.

Grants & Grantees

This world premiere play, written by the Wilma’s artistic director Blanka Zizka, invites audiences to consider the immigrant experience and questions surrounding identity, homeland and exile, the idealism of youth, and the compromises of adulthood.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Janet Pilla has danced on many stages in her native Philadelphia over the past 25 years.

Part performance, part discussion, and part party, these events invite attendees to discuss the project’s improvisational practice.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Richard Evans is co-founder and president of EmcArts, a New York City firm that works to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations.

Grants & Grantees

Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre creates performance with a focus on devised work that often includes forays into pop culture, political satire, and the human condition.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Charlotte Ford is a Philadelphia-based theater artist who creates slapstick performance art.

Grants & Grantees

Alice Schell is a fiction writer and a 1994 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the world’s leading orchestras.

“Extraordinary Indian classical dancer” Sarukkai performed at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, a Center-funded concert presented by Sruti, the India Music and Dance Society.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 1992, Astral Artists plays a vital role in the discovery and development of gifted classical musicians.

Director Michał Zadara and actress Barbara Wysocka on how classical works influence contemporary theater-making.