LIFEWORLDS: Call for visual artists

Fall 2017 – Durham (NC)

Lifeworlds is a horizontally organized group art exhibit exploring how power shapes our experience of place. Artists are encouraged to address a range of issues including political, socioeconomic, and ecological.


Apart from a very few noteworthy exceptions, mainstream art institutions limit access to public creative expression by imposing individualistic and competitive participation requirements. Artists are excluded unless they exert themselves to differentiate their projects from those of peers, and boast of a careerist collection of trophy-like credentials. Apart from privileging artists who have funds for training, and time and cultural capital to build personal brands, these gatekeeping criteria divert energy away from urgent issues, and pit artists against one another. They pose structural obstacles to solidarity.

The naturalization of artistic competition echoes and reinforces the glorification of competition and ranking which dominates a growing number of workplaces, schools, and cultural spaces. Whether they focus on neoliberalism invading the art world or capitalism striving to appropriate traditions of creativity, critics agree that this institutional culture isolates people, rewarding an exceptional few while keeping the rest in obscurity and economic precarity.

Competition alone, it is repeated ad nauseam, spurs people to develop their innate potential. But what if Oscar Wilde (in “The Soul of Man Under Socialism”) was right –the best we can achieve within socioeconomic systems based on competition and inequality are “false” forms of individualism? It’s time to explore new kinds of creativity and subjectivity which flourish in conditions of cooperation and empathy.

The individualistic, exclusionary ethos is particularly ill-suited to an art event revolving around ecological and political issues. If capitalism is largely to blame for environmental destruction and devastation of local communities, why should we uncritically adopt its performance principle of competition when organizing an event intended to reflect upon the forces that prey on places?

Horizontal, non-hierarchical communication and decisionmaking is a more inclusive and democratic practice that has been successfully used in cultural and political movements internationally.


WHO CAN PARTICIPATE: visual artists in any medium/any experience level, age 18 and above, living in the Triangle (NC), who want to exhibit work addressing the exhibit’s theme.

WHEN: Please declare your interest in participating by emailing Nat Lazakis ( by October 15, 2017. We hope to hold the exhibit in late 2017. The number of works which each artist can exhibit will depend on the number of participants.

WHERE: We will rent a space in the Triangle for the exhibit (it would be ideal if we could find a place which would host our exhibition gratis, but this may not be possible). Another option is an online exhibit, if rent proves to be prohibitive, and if participants are interested in this idea.

COST: There is no entry fee. The cost for renting an exhibition space will be divided between participating artists (the amount will depend on the rent and number of artists– the more participants, the lower the cost for each of us).

FOR MORE INFORMATION contact Nat Lazakis (