The Theoretical Show | Call for Proposals

Open Call for Proposals juried by:

  • Larissa Harris, curator, Queens Museum of Art
  • Naima J. Keith, assistant curator, the Studio Museum in Harlem
  • Prem Krishnamurthy, director & curator, P!; founding principal, Project Project
  • David Senior, bibliographer, Museum of Modern Art Library

All exhibitions start as proposals. In theory, they are all perfect—at least in the eyes of those writing them. But few, if any, are realized to the extent that their creator had originally hoped. What if there was a way to freeze that original moment, when an idea is still fresh and unhampered, pristine and pure?
Recently an intelligent show, scheduled at EFA Project Space for late 2014, unexpectedly fell through. Perhaps this show was only ever meant to be theoretical—not an exhibition with objects. We decided to take this opportunity to think about the relationship between exhibition spaces, curators, and artists, and to consider what exactly it is that we do, as one of many nonprofit spaces in New York that facilitates exhibition-making. “Guest + Host = Ghost,” Marcel Duchamp punned. The assumption is that the gallery is the host and the curator is the guest. But is the gallery also a guest who gets the honor of seeing a show develop? And is the curator a host who does everything within her power to make the show the best it can be? Then are the artists guests of the curator, or hosts of the viewers? And who, or what, is the Ghost?
There are boundaries we face as producers of exhibitions, as hosts and as guests. What if these boundaries didn’t exist? As a way of thinking about these roles and their implications, we are opening our doors to all aspiring and working curators through an open call for the most outrageous, audacious, impossible exhibition proposals imaginable. Please send us proposals for shows regardless of practical limitations—submissions may include any number of artists alive or dead (or none at all), use any locations on this planet (or off), and assume a budget that is limitless. An esteemed jury—Larissa Harris, curator, Queens Museum of Art; Naima J. Keith, assistant curator, the Studio Museum in Harlem; Prem Krishnamurthy, director & curator, P!, and founding principal, Project Project; and David Senior, bibliographer, Museum of Modern Art Library—will evaluate the proposals and select the most outrageous and wonderful to be presented as gallery-ready objects, developed in consultation with the jurors and our staff.
The only stipulations are that proposals should be no longer than 500 words and must in some way respond to the following terms and phrases (suggested by our jury):
Small is beautiful
Flipped on its side
Turned over
All of the proposals, excepting those with content that is deemed offensive, cruel, or inappropriate, will be printed and placed on view in the EFA Project Space gallery for visitors to read.
Please join us in creating The Theoretical Show, a show of exhibitions that could happen only in our dreams.
Deadline for proposals: September 1, 2014
Dates of Exhibition: November 14th–December 20th, 2014

Send proposals to projectspace@efanyc.org with the subject line: theoretical show. Inline email only; no attachments please.


EFA Project Space Seeks Fall Interns

EFA Project Space seeks candidates for its fall internship program, which runs from September 4th to December 20th. 

Interns will primarily be given tasks related to the fall and upcoming shows. This fall we are presenting an exhibition that is an update of identity politics, and another that is the result of an open call for proposals for “dream exhibitions,” exhibitions that are outlandish and impossible to execute. Interns will assist in the execution and publication of the exhibition brochures, researching artists, sorting through proposals and organizing them for review, and helping with installation. In short, interns will have an opportunity to have a hands-on experience with making exhibitions, from the initial concept stage to its final execution in the gallery space. To enhance the educational component of the internship, there will be biweekly morning visits to galleries and museums with EFA Project Space staff.

Interns will also help us prepare next year's series of exhibitions. Throughout 2015 we are mounting exhibitions organized by an international roster of highly respected curators and scholars. Confucian philosophy, the slow-food movement, and the relationship between dance and writing are just a few of the topics that we'll explore over the next year. Exhibitions will not be limited to showing static objects, but will rather be dynamic and evolving over the duration of the show, and will feature meals, workshops, and performance. Interns will help with funding research and outreach and will work closely on all aspects of these exhibitions in order to realize them to their fullest extent. 

An ideal candidate is energetic and self-directed, ideally with experience doing research and interacting with a public that is enthusiastic about art. Interns will work closely with Project Space staff and outside curators on structured projects that are determined by each candidate's interest and experience. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: maintaining an active presence on social media outlets; communicating with artists; researching and compiling supplemental materials for exhibitions and special events; formatting information for the website; exploring opportunities for collaboration; seeking appropriate sponsors; assisting with publicity and coordination of events; overseeing the gallery during exhibitions, answering questions and providing the public with information. 

Deadline for applications is August 22, 2014; interviews begin in mid-August. 

  •       Recommended two to three days a week on Wednesday through Friday, 10am-6pm and Saturdays, 12pm-6pm; highly encouraged to attend and assist with events beyond these times.
  •       Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and FileMaker Pro preferred.
  •       This is an unpaid internship; we encourage interns to apply this experience toward college credit.
  •       Other internship benefits detailed during interviews.

Please email cover letter and resume with subject heading "Fall Internship" to lauren@efanyc.org.




"Several Circles" on ArtFCity's "Must See" List

ArtFCity includes Marco Antonini's "Several Circles" on their "Must See" list this week. Join us for the opening of "Several Circles" this Friday, April 4, 2014 at 6pm, and see what other exciting things are happening this week by clicking here.


I + We: Collective Movement Workshop at Human Resources LA

Artist Robby Herbst spent 6 weeks in New York this past June/July 2013 to develop project I + We: Collective Movement Workshop for Beginners here at EFA Project Space. I + We... was one of three projects chosen for Empathy Corporation: A Presentation of The HIVE a partnership between A Blade of Grass and EFA Project Space.

The experience allowed Herbst to take his project and ideas to Los Angeles for an upcoming 2-week workshop/presentation at Human Resources LA beginning January 15, 2014. For information on I + We Collective Movement Workshop click here or visit Human Resources LA's website by clicking here.


"Because of this residency I was able to find my voice."

"Because of this residency I was able to find my voice." That is what made Rachel Vera Steinberg's experience of the SHIFT Residency so indelible. Roddy Schrock tells us that SHIFT is "focused towards arts administrators who are also artists, but in a bigger perspective it is saying... you can be a creative artist and you can be another thing; they can both have equal value." 


When I decided to create a residency for artists who work in the arts, I never expected it to develop as rapidly or profoundly as it has. In four years, I witnessed artists make tremendous leaps as they were provided an opportunity to recharge their artistic practice and realign it with their work at arts organizations. Each year, seven artists/arts-workers are invited, via a nomination process, to be SHIFT residents. Artists who work for MoMA, Flux Factory, Eyebeam, the Bronx Museum, and twenty other organizations have participated in SHIFT, building a dynamic and expanding community of alumni.

We are grateful to the foundations and individuals who have been instrumental in supporting the earliest phase of the residency. The potential for what it can become within the next five, ten, fifteen years and beyond is boundless. To continue this essential project that honors and nurtures artists who work to support the arts community, we must ask the arts community for support.

Become an early patron of SHIFT Residency! To give you a sense of where your money will go: $25 helps fund basic maintenance, $50 to $100 goes toward materials, $500 goes toward artists stipends, $1,000 goes toward exhibitions and publications, $2,500 goes toward retreats, and $5,000 goes toward professional consultants and administration of the program. Please donate to EFA Project Space and include in the "Donations Specifications" section that your donation is for SHIFT Residency.
Thank you for your efforts to secure funds for the future of SHIFT. With your help, the residency is able to thrive through challenging and changing times.

Warm wishes,

Michelle Levy
Director, EFA Project Space
EFA Project Space, a program of The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent provided by law.

Image credit: Opening reception for A Necessary SHIFT, featuring artists from SHIFT residency. Foreground: Carolyn Sickles, Golden Ridge, 2013.