Gauging the Grey Area at Charge Practicum, Arts League Houston, November 8-9





If you’re in the Houston area, please join me next weekend for the workshops Gauging the Grey Area: A Human Spectrum and Gauging the Grey Area: Quiz Mewith Helena Keeffe, for the Charge Practicum at the Arts League Houston










charge is a two day practicum to 1. platform and convene artist led alternative models 2. open up conversations around equitable compensation of artists and 3. consider artists’ work in the larger economy.

The event will feature a selection of local and national presenters (artists, curators, organizers, and researchers) who have been commissioned to conceive and host discussions, direct actions, lectures, and workshops that explore conceptual, organizational, and economic models of sustaining one’s art practice, engaging critically and generatively within the arts ecosystem as well as with broader communities, and advocating for equitable compensation along the way.

charge will focus on supporting, celebrating, convening and hearing real talk from those who’ve been:

  • Piloting alternative models
  • Experimenting creatively with how to sustain an art practice
  • Intersecting arts and activist communities
  • Actively intervening in current standards and practices of compensation
  • Engaging both critically and generatively in the arts ecosystem
  • Compiling research on how artists’ work ties into the larger economy

Advocacy for equitable compensation of artists and more effective and sustainable models in the arts is nothing new. As Houston’s arts funding policies are currently being rewritten and the city is undergoing a major cultural initiative, an event like this, centered on and starting with the artists is vital in establishing equitable policies for the future.


11:00 – 11:45 AM >>> Laugh Yoga with Tony Day

11:45 – 12:00 AM >>> Welcome, Intro & Coffee

12:00 – 1:00 PM >>> Party Panel Slide Show & Tell Brunch with Michelle Barnes {The Community Artists’ Collective}, Nestor Topchy {TemplO/Zocalo} and Beth Secor {The Effemera Museum}

1:00 – 2:30 PM >>> Early Afternoon Sessions

Session A - How to Frame Pauses, Holism, and Magical Thinking in New Arts Infrastructures: Build Your Own Utopian Artist-Run Project ((lecture/workshop)) with Ayanna Jolivet McCloud {labotanica – Houston}

Session B - Gauging the Grey Area: A Human Spectrum ((workshop)) with Lauren van Haaften-Schick {Non-Participation – New York} and Helena Keeffe {Standard Deviation - San Francisco}

Session C - American Royalty ((discussion/direct action)) with Gabriel Martinez {Alabama Song – Houston}

Session D - Co-dependency Anonymous ((workshop)) with Dawn Weleski {Conflict Kitchen/City Council Wrestling/Bus Stop Opera – Pittsburgh}

2:30 – 3:00 PM >>> Snack Break

3:00 – 4:30 PM >>> Late Afternoon Sessions

Session E - Fishing for Answers ((presentation/discussion)) with Zach Moser {Shrimp Boat Projects/Workshop Houston/The Big Parade - Houston}

Session F - Gauging the Grey Area: Quiz Me ((workshop)) with Helena Keeffe {Standard Deviation – San Francisco} and Lauren van Haaften-Schick {Non-Participation – New York}

Session G - Party Out of Bounds ((presentation)) with Aay Preston-Myint {Chances Dances – Chicago}

Session H - Just Give’em the Loot ((workshop)) with Robert Pruitt and M’kina Tapscott {H.O.S.T – Houston}

5:30 – MIDNIGHT >>> Dinner + Dance Party

VHS Vinylandia by Stephanie Saint Sanchez AKA DJ ESTEFF {Houston}

DJ Flash Gordon Parks {Houston}


11:00 AM >>> Welcome & Introduction

11:15 – 12:45 PM >>> Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) ((lecture)) with Lise Soskolne {New York}

12:45 – 1:00 PM >>> Snack Break

1:00 – 1:45 PM >>> At Any Cost: Economics, Politics, and Value ((lecture)) with Alison Gerber {Yale}

2:00 – 3:00 PM >>> Lunch and Session Shares ((Pecha Kucha lite))

3:00 – 3:45 PM >>> Do What You Love And You’ll Never Work Another Day In Your Life: Economic calculations and political battles ((panel discussion)) with Alison Gerber, Helena Keeffe, Ayanna McCloud, and Zach Moser

3:45 – 4:00 PM >>> Open Floor Q&A Session



The $10 registration fee for charge goes to charge grant. All charge participants will be invited to submit written proposals online byJanuary 4, 2015. The grantee will be selected via online voting by charge participants. The grant will be announced and awarded at a celebration dinner soon after.

charge is co-organized by Jennie Ash and Carrie Schneider and presented by Art League Houston. This event is inspired by Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum presented by The Arts Research Center (ARC) at UC Berkeley.

Non-Participation closing & workshop at the Luminary, August 9

Saturday August 9th will be the final day for my exhibition Non-Participation at the Luminary  in St. Louis.

James and Brea McAnally of the Luminary will host a workshop based on one I presented with Helena Keeffe at UC Berkeley this past spring, Gauging the Gray Area: Standards for Artistic Labor. They will facilitate a workshop and series of discussion prompts and exercises exploring the ways artists’ measure, define, and negotiate their desired terms for their labor.


“Cariou v. Prince: Toward a Theory of Aesthetic-Judicial Judgments” published in the Texas A&M Law Review

Full text available on Scribd and on

This article is the product of a class I took in the Sociology of Culture with professor Cynthia Epstein at the CUNY Graduate Center in Fall 2013,  and of a talk given by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento at Texas A&M University around the same time.

Following his talk, Munoz Sarmiento was invited to contribute an article to this issue of the Law Review. Noting the similarity in our respective papers’ arguments concerning the Cariou v. Prince case, appropriation, copyright and artists’ labor rights, Muñoz Sarmiento invited me to collaborate on this publication, taking it as an opportunity to memorialize the numerous conversations we had had on what this seminal appropriation art case meant for contemporary art, art history, and artistic production and reception.

Thus, this theoretical article is written with the intent of impacting the mindset of those in the arts. Not that those in the law cannot gain from our article. We imagine the article as providing another glimpse to those in the law other than the spectacle portrayed on a daily basis by glossy magazines, art journals, and sensationalist blogs.

The article is also not intended to rewrite or much less rehash all that has been written about medium specificity, aesthetic judgments, and labor in art. Instead, the article pinpoints these three main areas so as to highlight how law — when misapplied and leveraged by those with specific agendas — can have dire consequences for artists, curators, and writers beyond the walls of a court and auction house.

My sincere thanks to Muñoz Sarmiento for inviting me to collaborate with him on what we hope will prove an important article and position to take.


“Directly in front of you.” On view online at Light & Wire Gallery.

Directly in front of you.

The experience of installation
compiled by Lauren van Haaften-Schick
June 30 – July 25, 2014



Consisting of found footage recorded by exhibition viewers, or capturing visitors’ interaction with an art installation, Directly in front of you is a video compilation examining the experience of installation. Organized by environmental setting or sculptural type, these recorded surreal and extremely direct artworks consider our negotiation between the tangible and microscopic, monumentality and aggressive confrontation, intimacy and infinitude, and the mediated sublime. Throughout these recordings, playful negation is balanced with meditative reflection as critical and equally valid experiences of perception.

See Light & Wire Gallery for more information and to view video online.




Non-Participation at the Luminary, St Louis, Opening June 27


June 27 – August 8, 2014
The Luminary Center for the Arts
2701 Cherokee, St. Louis, MO


Non-Participation is an in-progress collection of letters written by artists and others in which they refuse to take part in cultural events for various political and ethical reasons.

The first public presentation of the ongoing project will take place at the Luminary Center for the Arts in St. Louis, from June 27 – August 8, 2014. The exhibition follows a residency at the Luminary during the last two weeks of June.

I am still actively taking submissions of letters, which may be sent

The call for submissions follows.

More info at



Call for Submissions

Non-Participation is an on-going collection of letters written by artists, writers, musicians, curators, and other cultural producers, in which they decline opportunities to participate in cultural events, such as exhibitions and performances, for various political and ethical reasons. These statements serve as evidence that the artist may act with agency, and is not beholden to the terms of an institution. They also pose a positive alternative to a ubiquitous pressure to perform, and state cases for the legitimacy of art-work as a real and remunerable form of labor. At the core of the project is the notion that what we say “no” to is perhaps more important than what we agree to.

Examples of such letters include: The artist collective YAMS’ withdrawal from the 2014 Whitney Biennial on grounds that the Museum perpetuates racism within the institutional art world; the withdrawal of John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie and Ed Ruscha from the board of trustees of LA MoCA in response to the leadership of Jeffrey Deitch and the exit of curator Paul Schimmel; Artist Michael Rakowitz’s refusal of an invitation to create a commissioned work for the Spertus in Chicago, after they had pre-maturely closed a show on contemporary and historic interpretations of mapping the Israel Palestine region; and a heavily annotated and criticized request received by the artist activist group Working Artists for the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) for their participation in a major exhibit for which no artist fees or support of any kind was offered by the organizer.

I am now collecting your letters of non-participation, which will be compiled as a publication and online archive, with additional exhibitions and events to be announced.

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.

Each letter will be accompanied by a factual account of the incident and/or any other relevant information that could illuminate the situation, as you see fit.
There is currently no deadline for submissions.

Thank you in advance.

Lauren van Haaften-Schick


The Luminary Center for the Arts



Valuing Labor in the Arts: Response

Now on A wrap-up and response article by Patricia Maloney on Gauging the Gray Area, a workshop organized by myself and Helena Keeffe for “Valuing Labor in the Arts” at the Arts Research Center, UC Berkeley:

Valuing Labor in the Arts - Response: Negotiating Terms and Setting Precedents

By Patricia Maloney May 22, 2014

On April 19, 2014, the Arts Research Center hosted Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum. This daylong event included a series of artist-led workshops that developed exercises, prompts, or actions that engage questions of art, labor, and economics.

Patricia Maloney participated in the “Gauging the Gray Area: Standards for Artistic Labor” workshop at the Valuing Labor in the Arts practicum and was commissioned to write this response….


One of the participants in the workshop, choreographer and Berkeley PhD student Sara Wilbur  also came up with a great dance-focused response to the project. Amazing!


You can download our Gauging the Grey Area broadside here.



“Gauging the Gray Area: Standards for Artistic Labor,” Valuing Labor in the Arts at UC Berkeley

Last weekend I presented a workshop with Helena Keeffe for the practicum Valuing Labor in the Arts, presented by the Arts Resource Center at UC Berkeley. It was a big experiment for both of us, and proved very productive for both the facilitators and workshop participants, as the workshop structure opened up new ways for us to talk about difficult personal, ethical and economic questions as group.

Below is a description of our workshop. Descriptions for the full day of events available at Art Practical, to be followed by reflections on the day, and a pdf of the document our workshop collectively produced.

Image credit: Michele Bock

Gauging the Gray Area: Standards for Artistic Labor
Helena Keeffe and Lauren van Haaften-Schick

When is it okay to work for free? Why is remuneration a concern for artists and arts workers? What perpetuates the devaluation of artistic labor? How have artists confronted these challenges? Can we devise a scheme for artists to follow during negotiations for compensation? Is it possible to create a shared standard of artist needs?

Artistic labor is often assumed to be unquantifiable, difficult to define, existing solely within a gift economy. At the same time, we live in the era of the presumed professional artist, in which art practitioners are expected to be hyper-performers, on the clock, and giving it all for the promise of exposure. Both assumptions about art work have positive aspects: a gift economy encourages collectivity and mutual exchange while the professionalization of the arts presumably elevates the artist to a more respected role in society. Yet the collision of these contradicting assumptions has instead cast artists as precarious workers, in which they are expected to give and to perform endlessly without any established standards for remuneration.

The workshop “Gauging the Gray Area: Standards for Artistic Labor” consists of a conversation and exercise through which participants will consider the ways that we value our artistic labor and attempt to formulate a set of standards for answering the above questions in our professional and daily lives. We will discuss examples of artists who have refused work for the lack of payment and who have turned these conflicts into opportunities for teaching or encouraging change. We will consider tools that artists have devised to evaluate situations: when to work for free, when to demand more, and how to better define the myriad gray areas of artistic work. Such tools include Helena Keeffe’s project Standard Deviation, Jessica Hische’s Should I Work for Free?, Lauren van Haaften-Schick’s Non-Participation, data collected by WAGE and CARFAC, and legal tools such as Seth Siegelaub’s Artists Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement. Workshop participants will discuss their experiences with such negotiations and will be asked to formulate their own standards for when and why to say yes or no to unpaid—and sometimes paid—art work.

At the conclusion of the workshop, we will devise a tiered system of standards for determining whether or not to accept paid and unpaid work within the arts, taking into consideration the personal, social, and practical circumstances behind each decision. Rather than seek a collective standard, we will recognize that personal needs and ethics regarding payment for artistic labor will vary among participants. Our considerations and conclusions will be printed as a broadside for conference attendees to take with them and reproduce or edit for themselves. We hope that this broadside will not only be the spark of many future conversations, but will begin to be used as a concrete tool among artists for measuring the value of their work.



Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies conference

I’m pleased to announce my participation in the conference Living Labor: Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies at NYU on April 12, 2014.

I’ll be presenting on the origin and use of Seth Siegelaub’s Artist’s Reserved Rights and Transfer of Sale Agreement, and the notion of critical circulation.

Panel information:


“If you give me your time, I’ll give you experience”: The Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI) and the Value Theory of Labor
Samara Davis (New York University)

Field Notes from an Ethnography of Manhattan Marxism
Steve Lyons (Concordia University)

Live Matter, Hidden Labor: Rethinking the Silent Presence of the Other in Contemporary Art
Jimena Ortuzar (University of Toronto)

Siegelaub’s Agreement as Critical Circulation
Lauren van Haaften-Schick (Independent Curator)



Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies
April 11 – 13, 2014
Performance Studies, NYU
Keynote Address by Professor Fred Moten and Sianne Ngai

Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies is an interdisciplinary graduate student conference being organized at the Department of Performance Studies at New York University, and will take place April 11th-14th 2014.


“Canceled” in Baltimore at Guest Spot Art Space, curated by Arts & Sciences Projects

Canceled: Alternative Manifestations & Productive Failures will be presented within the exhibit Cookbook Dreams and Inflatable Futures, curated by Arts & Sciences projects at the Reinstitute/Guest Spot art space in Baltimore. For this exhibit, “Canceled” has been presented as an artist project & archive of itself. This is a nice thing about making shows that can exist on a book shelf or in a big white space.

More info on the show at Guest Spot, and on Arts & Sciences projects.

Cookbook Dreams and Inflatable Futures

Antoine Lefebvre, Robin Cameron, Cybele Lyle, Luca Antonucci, John Bohl, NOWORK, and Lauren van Haaften-Schick

On view: March 8, 2014 through April 19, 2014

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 8, 2014, 7-10pm

Guest Spot at THE REINSTITUTE (Baltimore) is pleased to present Cookbook Dreams and Inflatable Futures, a group exhibition organized by Arts & Sciences Projects. Opening Saturday March 8, 2014, the works will be on view through April 19, 2014. The show will feature artists’ books and works in other media by Antoine Lefebvre, Robin Cameron, Cybele Lyle, Luca Antonucci, John Bohl, NOWORK, and Lauren van Haaften-Schick.

Inspired by Ant Farm’s 1971 Inflatocookbook, which envisioned a utopia of DIY inflatables within its humble photocopied pages, Cookbook Dreams and Inflatable Futures brings together artists who concoct varied approaches to circulating and advancing concepts and ideas central to their practice through innovative means of book making and distribution. For these artists, books are conceived as alternative spaces in which to exhibit works to a broader audience; they embrace a process-oriented approach to book making, where dialogues are revealed between books and works in other media, including photography, prints, video, and painting. The assembled artists in Cookbook Dreams and Inflatable Futures not only utilize the book as a vehicle for their ideas, they also position the book as an art object, thus challenging notions of assigned value in contemporary art. In making a diverse range of books, these artists assert agency by choice of content, form, materials, and production values. What unites the artists in the show is the realization of the boundless possibilities of books as they enter circulation, free to establish a life of their own.

Antoine Lefebvre initiated La Bibliothèque Fantastique (LBF) in 2009 as an artist’s book virtual publisher. Free and downloadable from the internet, LBF books are made of excerpts of other works, with pages, sentences and words realized in new editions, thus developing a discourse on the ontology of the book.Robin Cameron’s The Book That Makes Itself exposes its own production through its content and form. By personifying the book itself, Cameron articulates her artistic practice as the subject (The Artist), agent and author. The collaborative practice of Cybele Lyle and Luca Antonucci reveals itself in their Space, Time + Architecture projectwhich includes the titular Sigfried Giedion tome in a highly redacted state, collaged photographs that imagine new conceptions of space, and a revised, letterpressed Space, Time + Architecturethat unites their ideas into a new form. John Bohl uses painting and sculpture to examine utopia, kitsch, and romanticism. Typically produced in collabration with other artists, his books may be seen as sculptural objects dialectically engaged with his paintings and works in other media. NOWORK is a platform for collaboratively produced, anonymous projects that relate to New York City, with a focus on photographic material in public spaces. Not citing individual authorship for their work has allowed them to treat their source material, whether taken or found, as part of an act of re-circulation. The problem of artistic agency features prominently in Lauren van Haaften-Shick’s curatorial practice, which considers a selection of art exhibitions manifested in alternative forms, such as publications. van Haaften-Schick’s work highlights the book form (and printed matter) as a crucial means of disseminating artworks and ideas, potentially in ways that are more historically accessible and lasting than a traditional exhibition would have been.


Guest Spot is located at 1715 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

Saturday 1pm-4pm
Wednesdays 5pm-7pm
or by appointment unless otherwise noted.