LIFEWORLDS: Call for visual artists (updated January 2018)

Lifeworlds is a horizontally organized group art exhibit exploring how power affects 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 North Carolina, who want to exhibit work addressing the exhibit’s theme.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Please declare your interest by emailing Nat Lazakis ( We hope to hold the exhibit in 2018. The number of works which each artist can exhibit will depend on the number of participants.

WHERE: A non-profit organization in Durham has expressed interest in offering us space for the exhibition.

WHEN: Artists are currently invited to participate (as of January 2018).

COST: There is no entry fee.

FOR MORE INFORMATION contact Nat Lazakis (






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