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Non-Participation: Call for Submissions

November 19, 2012

via Lauren van Haaften-Schick


Dear artists, writers, curators, musicians, and others,

I am seeking submissions for a new project, Non-Participation.



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 than 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

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.

In terms of my own work, this project is a natural extension of my last exhibition, “Canceled: Alternative Manifestations & Productive Failures.
The idea for “Non-Participation” came up many times over the course of the exhibition, and now I would like to see it come into being. 

Please feel free to pass this along to anyone else you think may be interested.

And of course, let me know if you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions.

Thank you in advance!

All my best,


8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2012 12:20 PM

    A lesson in history!

    First known reference to art strike is in Alain Jouffroy’s essay “What’s To Be Done About Art?” (included in “Art and Confrontation,” New York Graphic Society 1968):
    “It is essential that the minority advocate the necessity of going on an ‘active art strike’ using the machines of the culture industry to set it in total contradiction to itself. The intention is not to end the rule of production, but to change the most adventurous part of ‘artistic’ production into the production of revolutionary ideas, forms and techniques.”
    May 22, 1970 – New York Art Strike against War, Repression, Racism and Sexism by Art Workers Coalition
    1977-1980 – Gustav Metzger’s call for artists to withdraw their labour for a minimum of 3 years. “Art Into Society/Society Into Art” (ICA, London 1974)
    Art Strike 1990-1993 Campaign launched in 1986 by Stewart Home which called upon all artists to cease their artistic work between January 1, 1990 and January 1, 1993
    Art Strike Biennial in Alytus from August 18-24th, 2009 was called by Redas Diržys and the Second Temporary Art Strike Action Committee – Alytus Chapter (STASAC-Alytus) in response to Vilnius becoming European Capital of Culture for 2009.[1]
    Spart Strike 2009 – 2012 following the Art Strike Biennial.

    • Lauren VHS permalink
      November 22, 2012 6:11 AM


      This is great! The project does begin with the AWC in an important way, though I also plan to include historic materials predating that too. That history circulates a lot and with great reason. It’s interesting to consider the points at which efforts are coordinated or viewed as strikes, versus a disagreement. Where/when is it better to escalate, go public, ask for others to join, or conversely, to simply maintain one’s own ground?

      This is also making me think someone should write that history of organized artists’ strikes.

      Thanks for sending these, very helpful.


  2. November 19, 2012 3:01 PM

    Yeah, I’ve been criticaly engaged enough with the art world enough not to have the glory tof tellng individuals to fuck off. |
    Its not that I don’t participate, its that my guess is that there are enough folks who manage careers and relations in a responsible manner so that they don’t actually have to make deals (or not make deals) with the devil.
    How about a little more complex a question?

  3. Anonymous Loser permalink
    November 19, 2012 10:01 AM

    Such a nice to way affirm institutional power! By saying NO to a museum etc., I make myself heard and accept the fact that whatever I do is totally measured by its proximity to these institutions.” And, what’s even more cooler, Laren gets an exhibition out of it, thus advancing her career! Lastly, I love how this project totally negelcts the reasonings and conditions of saying no, replacing such discourse with pointless hype and inst crit -posing.

  4. November 19, 2012 9:09 AM

    Dear Lauren,
    you may have heard about this already but in case you have not:

    It is a historical case from 1979, a Yugoslav (now serbian) artist Goran Đorđević invited artists across the international art scene to strike and reject to work in the corrupt art system for a duration of one year. He has (shown) a collection of letters with which artists/art workers have replied. Strike unfortunately never happened since most of replies have been rejections.

    The pdf I am sending you contains his invitation and replies.
    For further research see and/or

    Hope you find this useful.

    • Lauren VHS permalink
      November 22, 2012 5:52 AM


      Thanks so much for these links. I actually did not know about the Goran Đorđević case, but this is perfect for the project. The letters which explain artists’/workers’ reasoning for not participating in the strike are equally fascinating and important components of the whole history, it’s great that such a compilation exists.

      I’ve downloaded the issues of prelom, however I don’t think the first link is working. Could you possibly re-post, or email? Many thanks.



  1. Non-Participation and ArtLeaks | Lauren van Haaften-Schick.


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