Shared identity is a term I use to describe how I feel like one identity in two separate bodies. Although there isn’t a dictionary definition for shared identity, Nick Johnson describes it as the collective identity formed from newfound diversity, connecting us to the broader society (Johnson, N. 2007). However, I view it as the literal sharing of one identity.

Within art collaboration, the closest term to my definition is the third identity. The third identity is the three identities which exist in a two-person collaboration; one individual identity brought by both artists and a third joint identity. Marina Abramović and Ulay refer to their third identity as Rest Energy. Green explained in his article on the third hand that their collaborative work creates a new phantom body, a third person created by the artists two identities (Green, C. 2000). Abramović and Ulay have individualised practices, so this third identity only exists at certain times.

Contrary to this, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard exclusively work together. “When we collaborate with someone external, neither party is trying to change their essence through that collaboration, whereas ours is very much about changing our individual essence into one singular entity” (Forsyth, I., and Pollard, J. n.d.). The creation of a singular identity is something that I relate to within my practice, as neither part of me has an individualised practice.

In artistic terminology, third identity requires both parties to bring their own identity and practice. Although my two bodies brought different skills, neither had a personalised practice; both bodies found their singular practice when united. The third identity is limited to explain how I feel like an individual, nor would it cover Forsyth and Jane; they see themselves only as a single entity, with a singular practice. The third identity is limited, and the idea of shared identity could build upon third to cover how many artistic duos feel.


Forsyth, I., and Pollard, J. (n.d.) ‘Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard.’ [Interview by Ellen Mara De Wachter] in Wachter, E. (2017) Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration London: Phadion Press Limited

Green, C. (2011) ‘Doubles, Dopplegängers, and the Third Hand’ in The Third Hand: collaboration in art from conceptualism to postmodernism. e.d. by Green, C. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 179-188 

Green, C. (2000) ‘Dopplegangers and the Third Force: The Artistic Collaborations of Gilbert & George and Marina Abramovic/Ulay.’ Art Journal 59(2) 36-45 

Johnson, N. (2007) Shared Identity [Online] available from <> [Accessed: 21/04/2020]

Wachter, E. (2017) Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration. London: Phadion Press Limited