On hold

In order to be able to focus more fully on some aspects having to do with with my own artist’s predicament I am putting this on hold for a while. If you were looking forward to this week’s post though, I don’t intent to let you go empty-handed: Here is the weekly open call I submitted work to, check it out, you may be interested in it as well:  Athens Digital Arts Festival Call for Entries

Good luck!

Application Sunday, part XI: Artist call sites: 4 indicators of the “wrong kind” and my best of list


Every Sunday I share the weekly open call I submit my work to and the lessons I learned from over a year of following a relentless application regimen!

This week’s open call: This week I submitted work for the SeMA Nanji Residency in Seoul, South Korea. I discovered the call on the day of its deadline, so unfortunately applications are now closed, but maybe you can benefit from taking note of this residency program and applying in one of their next application rounds.

What I learned from a year of artist call submissions, Part XI: Artist call sites: 4 indicators of the “wrong kind” and my best of list

Since the beginning of 2014 I have been following a strict application regimen: Submitting my work to artist calls persistently and in a consistent, organized manner, trying not to take rejections, which at times come down like rain, too much to heart.

In this enterprise, aiming to get my work out there, there was a kind of resource that I referred back to consistently and used as my starting point to venture out into the opportunities “forest”: The Artist call website. Not one, but rather a whole category, these are websites where art organizations or individuals list their “artist opportunities”. These can be a valuable resource for artists seeking to submit their work for the purpose of an exhibition participation, a publication feature, being awarded an artist residency, a grant, etc. In short, any kind of “opportunity” that is to be communicated in the form of an “open call”, through which the pool of candidates is created, can be listed on an artist call site. So the artist, rather than doing repeated internet searches and visiting the individual organizers’ sites, has all these “ads” available in one place.

Not all artist call websites are created equal

The service that artist call sites provide to the artist is pretty valuable. Nevertheless, the value that they can provide us with has created in its turn a drawback: Because these sites are so popular now and can attract large numbers of visits from artists seeking the next call to apply to, they in turn present a lucrative opportunity to those who run them: They can turn into a virtual goldmine, capitalizing on their high visibility in the form of advertising, fees charged to organizers to list their calls or to artists in order to have “full” access to their content, etc. These sites have become more numerous than anyone would bother to count. Unfortunately, as is the case with the opportunities listed on them, not all of these sites are worth our time and attention. In my article To apply or not to apply? 7 indicators of the wrong kind of artist call I attempt to identify the common signs that should tell you an artist call is better ignored. But what about the artist call sites? How can we identify which ones have quality material worth spending our time and energy on? Here also, as in the case of artist opportunities, spending too much time on artist call sites that don’t provide us with much value can result in us despairing and calling the whole thing off, or postponing it, making it more difficult to reach our goals. In this article I will go through the indicators I now use, after inevitably having had to waste a lot of time on sites that didn’t give anything back, to identify those that can be a valuable tool. I will then provide you with a list of my 10 favorite websites for tracking the opportunities that matter.

4 indicators of the wrong kind of artist call website

If you spot any of these characteristics on an artist call site, its content will most probably be of low quality:

  1. Poor aesthetics. As is the case with artist calls themselves, a site with poor aesthetics is most likely to have low-quality content as well. In the beginning, I was trying to ignore this factor and go against my instincts, but eventually I realized that when the website’s overall appearance is bad, then you are better off not spending any time on it. Too many advertisements is one of the factors contributing to poor aesthetics. An example.
  2. Claiming to be for “professional artists”. I found that most of the listings on “professional artist” sites are of low value. I am not referring here to sites that indeed belong to professional artist organizations. An example.
  3. Sites that require the artist to pay a yearly or monthly fee in order to have full access to their content. Unless you are willing to pay to have access to a site that already monetizes your presence through advertising, which is something I myself refuse to do, most listings available on these sites are nothing worth spending your time on. An example.
  4. Difficult to use. The whole idea of an artist call site is to make our lives easier. If, by looking at a website’s appearance, it seems that the time and effort it is supposed to save me will be spent navigating pages and pages of illegible or poorly organized content then, again, I immediately move to the next one. An example.

My 10 best of list

These are sites that I use regularly in order to identify artist calls worth spending my time and effort on. Naturally, the “good” ads are in the minority here as well, because this deficiency has to do to more with the plethora of parasitical “organizers” in the art world, rather than the quality of these sites themselves. Nevertheless, I have found that I am statistically more likely to spot high quality ads here than anywhere else. Also, these sites are fun to browse: Their use is intuitive and you can read the listings in one glance, identifying key elements like the venue, the deadline, whether there are fees, etc. all pretty quickly. 

Here they are, listed in alphabetical order:

  1. artopportunities

  2. Call for…

  3. contest watchers

  4. Culture 360

  5. e-artnow

  6. on the move

  7. Resartis -exclusively listing residency opportunities

  8. Residency Unlimited (RU) -exclusively listing residency opportunities

  9. re-title (also an artist registry)

  10. wooloo

A two-part strategy to get you started

Now that you have a list of artist call sites that can be a valuable tool in your quest for open calls to submit your work to, take the next step in order to make the best of what they have to offer and stay up to date on new opportunities:

  1. Subscribe to these sites’ newsletters or to their deadline notifications. This way you will be sure to be regularly updated on new ads listed on the site and not miss out on an opportunity that might have been a good fit. Usually, a quick scan of that e-mail will be enough to determine the value of those calls, and whether it is worth clicking through to the artist call site or to that of the organizer for more details.
  2. Even if you have subscribed to these sites’ e-mail alerts, make a habit of visiting them independently at least twice per month. Because the e-mails they send out are meant to update you on listings that were posted in the last 15-20 days or so, depending on the frequency of the e-mails, there may be calls that you would benefit from being informed about earlier. This is especially true in the case of calls concerning grants or certain residencies that have a long list of material required of the applicant.

What is your own strategy in staying up to date on the new opportunities out there? Is there a tip/method that you would add to my two-part strategy? Are there any other artist call sites you would add to this best of list? Have you identified any other indicator of the “wrong kind of artist call site” not mentioned here?

Feminist Monday: L’Origine du monde (1866), Gustave Courbet

2_LOrigine du monde

Origin of the World, oil on canvas, 46 cm × 55 cm (18 in × 22 in), 1886, Gustave Courbet – Photography, Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

I sincerely doubt that Courbet intended to make a “feminist” work when he painted this, at least not in the sense we understand the term today. But if we agree that a work can be deemed feminist when challenging a current predominant and limited view on women, then “the Origin of the world” is certainly one.

Until Courbet’s time women in erotic paintings would be portrayed symbolically and within a mythological framework. Gustave Courbet brought the real woman in the forefront therefore creating one of the greatest feminist artworks in the history of art.

Ironically enough, and in a very “un-feminist” way, as many modern day feminists would view it, the work is believed to have been commissioned by an Ottoman diplomat as an addition to his personal collection of erotic pictures. This close-up view of the genitals and abdomen of a naked woman, would indeed meet the commission’s requirements, but do it in a very realist manner (honoring Courbet’s notoriety as one of the leaders of the Realist painters): This realist nature of the work is exactly where its subversiveness, or, to use a more fashionable term, disruptiveness lies. As mentioned above, erotic painting to that day portrayed women with a mythological pretext, that is, any allusion to the erotic was made in a symbolic, therefore indirect way. Courbet rendered these mythological garments useless, directly challenging the social hypocrisy they represented: Eroticism and even pornography were accepted in the framework of mythological or oneiric paintings but not in the framework of reality.

Through its title and also the unusual angle of the subject the work also serves as a direct affirmation or rather declaration of woman’s ability to bring life. To the observation that the connection between woman and fertility is nothing new in art, one could retort that what is new here would, again, be that we are confronted by a real woman and not a woman-symbol of fertility, or a woman-mythological creature: One can maintain that “The Origin of the world” is a tribute to woman, not only because it shifts the focus in the female nude from the erotic in a banal way to the erotic in a deeper sense connected to nature’s plan, but also because the female body here appears to be something even more than “the origin of the world”.  Being presented outside the hypocritical social conventions, the female body can now be for and in itself. And so can woman.

Not surprisingly, the work was viewed as overly crude and daring by its contemporaries, creating an uproar in the art circles of the day. More than that, it seems to be generating controversy again and again to this day, in a way proving that if a declaration lives on in it, it is one our society is not yet ready to accept.

Feminist Monday: Nancy Spero’s Notes in Time (1979)

Art that is feminist in a way that matters

Artist Nancy Spero (1926-2009) was born 89 years ago today. Remembering her I am starting this series, every Monday presenting an artwork, feminist in a way that matters. At least in a way that matters to me.

The term “feminist” never really sat well with me. I find it is usually employed to describe things, actions or situations that don’t do us (women) much honor. Most of the “feminist” points of view seem to lack any sense of dialectic quality and appear to be driven by a monomaniacal black & white perspective. Fighting against female oppression and for actual equality demands a much more nuanced and meaningful approach than merely stating the obvious (the domination of patriarchal values and structures) or, repeating slogans with no real meaning or usefulness (when not accompanied by a call for action or an empowering piece of knowledge). The worse kind of feminism being the patriarchal point of view in reverse, that is, a campaign promoting that women are superior to men. And let’s not forget about this most insulting kind of feminism: One that masquerades as such but in reality perpetuates the use of women as circus freaks. This is usually achieved through the use of flattery (directed to the female audience). Headlines such as “The first woman president” or “Women artists are presented in their studios” (here is something along these lines) may seem at first glance to honor and celebrate women but a closer inspection reveals the actual ideological backwardness that they express and perpetuate: Instead of focusing on the woman on the basis of her accomplishments,, they shift the attention to her sex therefore in essence nullifying her actual value. This last kind of approach to “feminism” is actually especially popular among those wishing to promote an agenda essentially hostile to women. One example, taken from the political field, is the promotion of a female candidate by a reactionary political entity, that is certain to enforce under the party’s agenda the worst possible policies for women as soon as she occupies office (Clinton voters consider yourselves warned!).

Moreover most modern day feminists are possessed by the desire to shock. I find this a mediocre ambition, for any woman as well as man.

So, to prove a point, say it like it is (feminism that is), and be inspired, in memory of a true feminist (because she was a humanist), this Monday and every Monday, I will be presenting an artwork or a series of works of an artist that defended (or defends) the right of women to be considered human.

Notes in Time (1979), Nancy Spero (1926-2009)


Cut-and-pasted painted paper, gouache, and pencil on joined sheets of paper

24 sheets Overall: 20 x 210′ (50.8 x
6400.8 cm) 22 frames at 25 x 116 x
1 15/16″ 1 frame at 25 x 61 x 1 15/16″
1 frame at 25 x 88 x 1 15/16″

*from the website of the Museum of Modern Art

Notes in Time is one of Nancy Spero’s most ambitious and iconic works. A scroll of monumental dimensions, it narrates the history of the female condition, starting from the beginning of time. In the work figures and text are interwoven in Spero’s characteristic way resulting in an evocative visual language full of movement.

The work consists of 24 horizontal panels, each approximately 9 feet (2.74 m) long.

One year after the artist’s death, in 2010, the online magazine Triple Canopy reanimated the work as a digital scroll and made it available for online viewing, thus in a way restoring the work itself: The artist had conceived of it as circular and continuous. Those two conditions are for the first time met in this digital reanimation that allows for the uninterrupted viewing of Notes in Time as a continuous scroll.

The work as digital scroll can be viewed on the Triple Canopy online magazine, here.