Thou shalt apply! Print
Written by Stéphanie Benzaquen   
Tuesday, 09 December 2008 17:51

Over the past years, we have attended a spectacular increase of ‘calls for proposals’, and as a consequence of applications. Exhibitions, festivals, workshops, jobs, grants, commissions, papers, and publications: there is no art-related field that has remained untouched by the phenomenon. Mailing-lists have multiplied and so have these calls. Let’s recognize it: what a temptation. A video festival in San Diego, a group exhibition in Bishkek, a lecture in Bratislava, a workshop in Oslo, an artist-in-residence in Tokyo…


They’re one click away from you. One click… and a CV, and a form to be filled, and a text about your project (from five hundred words to four pages), and a budget, and a technical list, and a visual presentation, and some sample of previous works, and the contacts of at least two referees, and sometimes even entrance fees…Like many of us, I apply. Although I know that the process is costly in time and energy and chances I get anything are pretty low, I keep on doing it again, and again, and again. It’s a Pavlov-like situation: as soon as I see some kind of why-not call for proposal, I hear an overbearing voice saying ‘Thou shalt apply!’ Let’s put masochism aside for a while and shift from the individual to the general. What makes artists and curators apply? How come that, despite all their obvious flaws, calls for proposals have become so successful? Should we not have a close look at the function they perform in what we may call ‘art system’? Isn’t it time to ask ourselves how we could hamper the proliferation of such exemplary illustration of ‘serious culture’? 




STÉPHANIE BENZAQUEN is independent curator and writer working internationally. She has particularly sensitive and very keen approach towards the mostly painful and historically ambivalent traditional regional problems and also on the issues of contemporary cultural colonialism in the territory of Eastern Europe. She works on documenting, visualizing and contextualizing mass murders by investigating its representations in culture, realms of memory, news media, academic essays and official actions. The phenomena of her particular interest and continuous research: Potemkin Village, Rashomon effect.