Protest Much? Participate in “Non-Participation”

11/02/2012 12:23 PM |

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For all the critics out there, Brooklyn-based curator Lauren van Haaften-Schick has a project just for you. All you need to do is send her a letter.

Van Haaften-Schick’s latest project, Non-Participation, “will be a collection of letters by artists, curators, and other cultural producers, written to decline their participation in events, or with organizations and institutions.” She can’t do all the legwork on her own, so if you’ve ever had a beef with organizations and institutions, send her your submission.

We here at AFC plan on submitting our petition against Sotheby’s, the auction house that locked out its art handlers for nearly a year. But with the definition of “letter” left vague, we could also submit a handful of things like reviews, tweets, emails, or anything beginning with “Dear _____.”

Read below for the full details on the project, including how to send off your letter (Deadline: December 31, 2012).

Call for submissions



The project, Non-Participation, will be a collection of letters by artists, curators, and other cultural producers, written to decline their participation in events, or with organizations and institutions which they either find suspect or whose actions run counter to their stated missions. These statements are in effect protests against common hypocrisies among cultural organizations, and pose a positive alternative to an equally ubiquitous pressure to perform. At the heart of the project is the notion that what we say “no” to is perhaps more important what we agree to.


Historic instances and examples include: Adrian Piper’s letter announcing her withdrawal from the show Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975 at LA MoCA, stating her opposition to Phillip Morris’ funding of the museum and requesting that her criticizing statement be publicly shown; A letter from Jo Baer to a Whitney Museum curator canceling an upcoming exhibition on the grounds that her work was not being taken seriously because she is a woman artist; Marcel Broodthaers open letter to Joseph Beuys questioning the relationship between artists and exhibiting institutions; and, just recently, critic Dave Hickey’s public announcement of his “quitting” the art world .



I am now collecting your letters of non-participation, which will be compiled as a publication, with other activities surrounding the project to be determined.

Please send copies of your letters via email to [email protected]


With your submission, please indicate whether or not you wish to remain anonymous. All names and contact information can be omitted or made public, depending on your preference. Also, feel free to include any other details or background information which could illuminate the situation, as you see fit. 



The deadline for submissions is December 31.