ART vs. The Open Call

Pixels and resolution.  Word count and bio. References and the non-refundable application fee. Deadlines and disciplines. These administrative details cannot provide authentic insight into an artist’s practice. At best, they inspire documentation and archival maintenance, but mostly the application process frustrates at the expense of a sizable time commitment - all without feedback.  And at an average of 300+ applications per open call cycle, a deeper read of the proposals is virtually impossible. I think institutions would be best served by collaborating with artists instead of corralling them, and re-directing those administrative resources into a means of support.

Since the open call scenario is so typical, I propose that there are many opportunities for innovation. For example, what if Art viewers are asked to nominate artists? Or perhaps recommendations could be made by other cultural institutions.  Certainly, direct interaction with institutional staff, even at the proposal stage, would customize the work of residency artists making the deliverables less contrived. Ultimately though, the best work requires risk. Choosing one among hundreds of qualified (or overqualified) applicants is a risk-less venture.  Here’s to artists and institutions sharing the risk, time, knowledge, and other resources, to create something that is truly ‘open’.


Kenya RobinsonComment