Jennifer Herrema and Neil Haggerty, photo by Nina Gouveia
Where creative couples are concerned, breaking up is hard to do. When a partnership is dissolved, there’s no guarantee that the individuals involved will thrive on their own. Why some stay together past the expiration date remains a mystery to all but their bankers and managers. How two people can converge as a fluid, productive entity, able to sustain shared beliefs and goals over a significant period of time is nothing short of remarkable. The risk that a merged identity will overshadow and dominate individual egos, and make one artist or performer subservient to the other, or to the image of their duality, looms constantly overhead, and most likely explains why creative partnerships simply unravel or seismically implode. Where the uncoupled had been romantically involved, shifting from significant other to significant other-fucker, the fall-out is exponentially blown, or, like those fragile and needy egos, overblown. Even in a professionally platonic arrangement, there must be some measure of unrequited love. In a working relationship, how often does one person believe that it’s all them? That the genius behind their most glorious ideas—and none of their idiotic missteps—is due to them and them alone? And what does the delusion really represent? This is the egomaniac’s kiss, or kiss-off, as the case may be. Against all odds, the show must go on.
Ike & Tina Turner, Outta Season, 1968
The great comedy team Martin & Lewis went on to greater heights apart, as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The same wasn’t the case for Ike & Tina Turner. Once Ike took a hike, Tina became the mega-million selling star. With bands, the front man almost always takes center stage—but never more so than when he goes out on his own. Rod Stewart & the Faces became Rod Stewart and turned several shades of platinum. Who needs a reason to believe? And what’s love got to do with it? But with artists and designers, such an evolution may be trickier. Can a brand simply continue to be marketed despite the end of the chemical interaction that gave birth to a shared creative charge?
Gilbert & George, Magazine Sculpture, 1969
The wildly successful artist duo Gilbert & George have been symbiotic for more than 40 years now. Could you have one without the other? Never. “To Be With Art Is All We Ask,” they famously proclaimed in 1970, a statement that turns perfectly on the “we,” uniting them and their audience. The same sentiment expressed in the first-person would be absolutely ludicrous. At the same time, standing together side-by-side, G & G project not only a joining of forces, but a united “us-against-the-world.” As self-proclaimed living sculpture, G & G’s art is embodied in their very being. It is an extended performance, and they are inextricably entwined. Always dressed in matching tweed suits, the duo, for all their rude and provocative pictures, embody absolute respectability. While they claim, as few of us cannot, to have never been searched in an airport, it is more than their uniform that keeps (in)security at bay; it is their attachment to one another that makes them, in a sense, utterly impenetrable.