Apexart, a non-profit gallery in lower Manhattan, annually accepts submissions for curatorial proposals for the following year. The submissions for 2014 were judged by 130 international judges and the top three proposals as determined by vote were then awarded a show. 525 proposals were submitted.
Full disclosure: I submitted a proposal that was not among the winners. Beyond the typical rejection email, the people at Apexart let you know where your proposal was ranked. Kind of nice, though others might see it as an act of cruelty. My proposal was not in the top 20 or even upper half. I was tied with about 30 other people at number 483. Not sure how I feel about that – if I’m going to lose, I would like it to be exceptional in some way.
Given the amount of entries, I am not especially disappointed and I have nothing against Apexart. Quite the opposite – the application was mercifully easy to complete and there was no fee to submit (a rarity). I found the whole endeavor to be commendably administered, in fact.
But I was appalled by the tone of the proposal that came in first place (titled “As Above, So Below”) . Here’s a pithy sample of the last paragraph of the winning entry:
“…However, the exhibition seeks not only to critically reflect on this socio-spatial shift, but also to give prominence to the potential for de-colonizing the aerial space itself, and hence, the aerial point of view. Through a series of workshops and talks, hosted by activists and thinkers, the project will offer practical DIY skills and proposals of how to re-conceptualize the air space as ‘commons’ and to reclaim the sky through social and collaborative practices.”
I feel dirty reading it. It hits all of the hip socio-political grace notes and couches them in a bloviating, academic/bureaucratic-speak that’s just too perfectly slimy (so perfect that it resists parody). I’m perplexed: Who would possibly vote for this? Does this language really excite people? Or did the judges vote for this proposal in spite of the smarmy, soulless writing?
A fellow commiserator wrote to me, “Better hope they get lucky with some worthy artist who turns fashionable diatribe into something sound by exhibition time.”
Excuse me, I must now re-conceptualize my own personal air space as ‘commons’. Through social and collaborative practices, of course.