Colab is the commonly used abbreviation of the New York City artists’ group Collaborative Projects Inc. Colab formed as a collective in 1977 after a series of open meetings between artists of various disciplines, first taking the name Green Corporation. The group initially received an NEA Workshop Grant through Center for New Art Activities, Inc., a small non-profit formed in 1974. The grant was divided equally among the artists in groups of three, two of whom were required to be Colab members.
In 1978, Collaborative Projects was incorporated as a not-for-profit and later received its tax-exempt status allowing it to apply for grants from the NEA and other sources independently. Colab was active for about 10 years becoming distinguished by it’s politically engaged open membership and the raw energy of it’s members. By finding creative means of sourcing their own funding, Colab controlled its own exhibitions and cable TV shows, bypassing the larger more established venues.
From November 1978 various artist members organized and installed one-off group shows in their own studios or other temporary sites, such as; ”The Batman Show,” (591 Broadway 1979), “Income and Wealth Show” (5 Bleecker Store 1979), “Doctors & Dentists Show” (591 Broadway 1979), ”The Manifesto Show” (5 Bleecker Store 1979), “The Dog Show” (591 Broadway 1979), “Just Another Asshole Show” (5 Bleecker Store), ”The Real Estate Show” (Delancey Street, Jan. 1980),”Exhibit A” (93 Grand Street, 1979) and notably, ”The Times Square Show” (201 W 41st, June 1980), a large open exhibition near the epicenter of New York’s entertainment and pornography district, produced in collaboration with Bronx-based Fashion Moda. Seed money from the first workshop grant through Center for New Art Inc. funded New Cinema, a screening room on St. Mark’s Place for narrative Super 8 films transferred to video and projected on an Advent screen, and led to the creation of Colab artists’ TV series on Manhattan Cable (1978–1984); “All Color News,” “Potato Wolf” and “Red Curtain”. Additionally the grant funded the continued publication of X Motion Picture Magazine (1979), the ABC No Rio | ABC No Rio Cultural Center (1980-82, ongoing) a public creative space born from “The Real Estate Show”, as well as Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine (1984), NightShift Theater (1979), Spanner Magazine (3 issues 1979), MWF Video Club (established in 1986) and Bomb Magazine (1981).
While the membership has shifted and evolved over time, members of the original group remain active art producers.
Ault, Julie. Alternative Art, New York, 1965-1985. University of Minnesota Press, (2002): 217.
Little, David E. “Colab Takes a Piece, History Takes It Back: Collectivity and New York Alternative Spaces.” Art Journal 66.1 (2007): 60-74.
Masters, Marc, and Weasel Walter. No Wave. London: Black Dog,(2007):141.
Taylor, Marvin J., and Carlo Mccormick. The Downtown Book: The New York Art Scene, 1974-1984. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2006.