Hyperlink, a nebulous artist collective with projects in Denver, Chicago, and at a uranium mine ghost town in Wyoming, is a proven testament to the power of collectivity and collaboration.
In the vast landscape of the art world, where pixels meet paint and innovation knows no bounds, a collective exists that defies geographical constraints and embraces the boundless possibilities of creative collaboration. Hyperlink, a nebulous artist collective that has rewritten the rules since its inception in 2014, is a collaboration anomaly.
Hyperlink, which comprises artists from diverse backgrounds who employ an array of media, diverges from the conventional narrative surrounding artistic collaboration. Traditional artistic collaborations often involve like-minded artists sticking to established norms. The Hyperlink collective challenges this approach by uniting diverse artists who work in various media, installing nomadic and unconventional exhibitions and showcases, and employing a resourceful funding strategy that brings a dynamic, unconventional approach to collaboration.
“In our collective, we’re driven by commitment, not compensation. While we might not always receive financial rewards, we redirect any available funds back into collaborative projects, ensuring fairness for everyone involved,” explains Hyperlink member Tobias Fike. “It’s not about ‘pay-to-play.’ It’s about conscious decisions and a dedication to equitable practices in our collaborations.”
Born in the heart of Chicago at the Zhou B Art Center, the collective began as an experiment, a creative crucible that soon outgrew the confines of brick and mortar. What sets Hyperlink apart is its dedication to unconventional artistic experiences, practices, and opportunities, all while fostering a community spirit that transcends geographical boundaries.
Hyperlink’s mission, crystal clear in its dedication to dissolving barriers, gains even more resonance when one considers the diverse tapestry of over fifteen artists—including Fike, Theresa Anderson, Don Fodness, Matthew Harris, and Jade Phillips—woven into its collective fabric.
The collective has mastered the art of reciprocal collaboration while transforming into a nomadic creative community that intricately interlaces connections with worldwide institutions and exhibition spaces. Its cooperative tendrils have ventured from the sun-soaked streets of Los Angeles to the vibrant lands of Wyoming, the high-altitude creativity of Denver, the very heart of Chicago, and even to China. Hyperlink’s canvas is boundless, and its commitment to reciprocal collaboration paints a vibrant picture of what is possible when humans invest in interconnected creativity.
In August 2023, members of Hyperlink and the art collective Land Report curated a unique exhibition in Shirley Basin, Wyoming. This semi-permanent exhibition, left to entropy, invites the public to view the eerie history and vast spaces of the American West. Reflecting on the nuclear legacy of places like Shirley Basin, each artist uniquely responded by contributing to the existing strangeness of the site. The show unifies diverse approaches with a common theme—each artwork “glows,” setting them apart from the decaying ruins. An added facet is that these works were once abandoned projects that have been reactivated and thoughtfully repurposed for this exhibition.
In addition to the globetrotting showcases, Hyperlink added another jewel to its artistic crown in 2023 with Daily Specials at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design’s Philip J. Steele Gallery in Lakewood, Colorado. Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s nod to the mundane in his Odes to Common Things, the exhibition delved into the overlooked wonders of our everyday lives. The poet’s words, “I love all things, not just the grandest, also the infinitely small,” served as a guiding philosophy for Daily Specials.
The exhibition, which also featured Chicago artist collective Tiger Strikes Asteroid, challenged the inattentional blindness we develop toward ordinary objects. From saltshakers to crinkle-cut French fries, the selected works encouraged viewers to perceive the profound in the commonplace. Puddles, plastic bags, jet streams, and rocks become subjects of contemplation, transforming the profane into the sacred.
Daily Specials was not just an exhibition; it was a trek into the art of observation, inviting visitors to marvel at the extraordinary within the ordinary, echoing Neruda’s celebration of the seemingly mundane artifacts that compose the fabric of our daily lives.
Art can sometimes feel like a carefully choreographed dance but Hyperlink is the wild, spontaneous, flipping terpsichorean, tantalizingly twirling across the floor. It’s not just about pushing away from the expected; it’s about gracefully defying the constraints of conventional art practices, pirouetting on the remnants of established norms by embracing fearless creation and exploration, where every eccentric idea is nurtured.
Hyperlink artist Matthew Harris, who uses he/they pronouns, describes the collective dynamic as “pretty casual” with a blend of advantages and disadvantages. Embracing the informality, he sees spontaneity as a key advantage despite the less organized, ad hoc nature. According to Harris, the strength lies in the flexibility to do whatever they want, make quick adjustments, and decide in the moment. Trust is a cornerstone—committing to an idea and following through is paramount, even if outcomes remain uncertain.
“Our approach is more akin to kids inviting each other to explore a dirt pile, devoid of business formalities but grounded in respect and commitment,” Harris says.
One unique aspect of Hyperlink’s collaborative magic lies in its resourceful approach to funding. Instead of relying on conventional financial models, each member contributes a small, symbolic fee—a collective investment that fuels the realization of their shared artistic dreams. This not only works towards achieving a semblance of financial sustainability but also reinforces a sense of shared ownership and commitment among the members.
This collaborative ethos isn’t just about breaking down the barriers between creatives; it also becomes about dismantling the financial constraints that can stifle creative expression. Through the funding model and a willingness to invest in their collective vision, the collective exemplifies a sustainable and empowering approach to collaborative art.
As Hyperlink continues crisscrossing the globe, leaving its artistic footprint in diverse cities, its collaborative spirit serves as a beacon in the sometimes tumultuous sea of the art world. The collective’s approach challenges the notion that collaboration is a rigid structure, proving that it can be as dynamic, diverse, and boundless as the art they create.
If you find yourself wandering through the projects on Hyperlink’s website or attending one of its dynamic exhibitions, remember that you’re not just witnessing art; you’re witnessing a testament to the power of collaboration, the breaking down of walls, and the boundless potential of artistic exploration. Hyperlink isn’t just a collective—it’s a journey through the interconnected, ever-evolving landscape of creativity.