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.





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



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.



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.



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: 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.



Guerrilla Girls, Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?, poster on the streets of New York, 1989. Image courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls.


Alternative Manifestations & Productive Failures

The Oresman Gallery, Smith CollegeFebruary 5 – 28, 2014

Opening reception and Curator’s Talk: Wednesday, February 5, 12-1pm

The Oresman Gallery
Brown Fine Arts Center
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Guest curated by Lauren van Haaften-Schick

Canceled: Alternative Manifestations & Productive Failures considers a selection of historic and contemporary canceled exhibitions, and the secondary projects that artists and curators created in response to, or in place of, these foreclosed efforts. Initially presented at the Center for Book Arts in New York, Canceled highlights the book form and printed matter as a crucial means of disseminating artworks, documentation and information on a wide scale, potentially in ways that are more historically accessible than the intended exhibition would have been.

The materials in Canceled also serve to document the process and politics of a cancellation, stand as an alternative manifestation of an exhibit, act as a critique of prohibitive forces, and may be an admission and exposition of an ultimately productive failure. In some cases, alternate venues and curators take a direct hand in ensuring other outlets for controversial artworks. At other times, artists will choose to opt out, subverting accepted institutional power structures. By utilizing non-traditional means of dissemination and exhibition, these artists and curators have found alternative routes through which the politics surrounding the presentation and creation of art become at least as relevant as the work itself.

Please contact to purchase an exhibition catalog.

Exhibitions and artists’ projects:
- Seth Siegelaub, publications, 1968
Manifesta 6, 2006
- Hans Haacke, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1971
- Guerrilla Girls, Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?, the Public Art Fund, 1989
- Jill Magid, Article 12, commission for the AIVD, 2004–2008; Authority to Remove, Tate Modern, 2009
The Aesthetics of Terror, curated by Manon Slome and Joshua Simon, The Chelsea Art Museum, 2008
Imaginary Coordinates, curated by Rhoda Rosen, The Spertus Museum, 2008
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1989
- David Wojnarowicz, A Fire in My Belly, censored from the Smithsonian Institution, 2010
- Richard Serra, Tilted Arc, 1981–1989
- Christoph Büchel, Training Ground for Democracy, Mass MoCA, 2006
- Patrick Cariou, Yes Rasta, Celle Gallery; Richard Prince, Canal Zone, Gagosian Gallery, 2008
- Takis, removal of sculpture from the Museum of Modern Art, 1968; The Art Workers Coalition, 1969
- Temporary Services, Why the Exhibit Was Canceled, 2001
- Brendan Fowler, BARR tour, 2008
- Bas Jan Ader, In Search of the Miraculous, 1975
And others.

Associated publications, artworks, and documentation:
Bas Jan Ader, Greg Allen, the Art Workers Coalition, Wallace Berman, Christoph Büchel, Martha Buskirk, Patrick Cariou, Shu Lea Cheang, Dexter Sinister, Exit Art, Brendan Fowler, the Guerrilla Girls, Hans Haacke, David Horvitz, Douglas Huebler, Jonathan D. Katz, Jill Magid, P.P.O.W., Primary Information, Richard Prince, Seth Siegelaub, Richard Serra, Temporary Services, Lawrence Weiner, Werkplaats Typografie, Marion van Wijk and Dalstar, Amy Wilson, David Wojnarowicz, and many others.

Canceled: Alternative Manifestations and Productive Failures

The Center for Book Arts, New York, NY
April 12–June 30, 2012

Freedman Gallery, Center For the Arts
Albright College, Reading, PA
October 10–November 17, 2013

The Oresman Gallery
Smith College, Northampton, MA
February 5-28, 2014

“Canceled” was also shown as an exhibition archive for David Horvitz’s “How Can A Digital Be Gift?” at the Goethe Institut, New York, NY, October – December 2012.


After wrapping up my successful talks at rum46 and Bureau Publik in Denmark, I’m spending a couple days in Amsterdam to marvel at the city, and to do some research at the International Institute of Social History.





I’m specifically looking at Seth Siegelaub’s International Mass Media Research Center documentation, which is housed here, among many other amazing collections.

If you have never been here while in Amsterdam, go.


I’m very pleased to be heading to Denmark to participate in the upcoming series Making Social Realities with Books at rum46, organized by the space in partnership with Bret Bloom and the Jutland Academy of Art.

social realities with books

The talk takes place on Wednesday, January 22nd at 19:00 at rum 46 in Aarhus. The workshop is the following day at rum 46 starting at 10:00.


Talk: Critical Circulation: Artists’ Books, Labor, and the Law

A dual economic and legal history of contemporary art can be traced through the histories of artists’ publishing practices, and in the attachment of legal terms to works of art. As an alternative exhibition format, publications have been employed as a crucial means of disseminating documentation and information on a wide and accessible scale, potentially in ways that are more historically stable and accessible than a traditional exhibition. Employing legal instruments such as the contract and certificate of authenticity, artists have attempted to gain control over the circulation and exhibition of their work, while critiquing a market-driven cultural economy. Each of these strategies instrumentalize circulation as a site for critique, allowing for the politics surrounding the creation, presentation, exchange, and future provenance of art to become at least as relevant as the work itself.

Conceptual art and institutional critique of the 1960s-70s stand as important historic examples in which the discourses of communications, labor, and the law are utilized to further artists’ rights and develop critical forms of production, dissemination, and reception. Beginning with Seth Siegelaub’s abandonment of a traditional gallery model to realize exhibitions as publications, and his later development of the “Artists’ Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement,” and concluding with current examples explored in the recent exhibition Canceled: Alternative Manifestations & Productive Failures, we will re-examine how these strategies have been used to create new modes of artistic agency.


Workshop: Non-Participation

Non-Participation is an ongoing collection of letters of refusal written by artists and other cultural producers to decline their participation in cultural events or exhibitions for political or ethical reasons. The issues raised by these artists’ letters include the non-payment of artists’ fees, the denial of copyright ownership, censorship, rejections of corporate funding, and many others. To quote one such letter by artist Michael Rakowitz, “sometimes what we say ‘no’ to is more important than what we agree to.”

Workshop participants will explore issues of how artistic labor is evaluated, consider ways for artists to better assert their needs or negotiate compromise, and compare the situations of artists in different national and cultural contexts. These considerations are particularly pertinent given the increasingly unstable state of arts funding internationally, and as privatization and debt become deeply politicized. We will discuss past and present examples of cultural producers advocating for improved labor conditions, such as the Art Workers Coalition, W.A.G.E., The CarrotWorkers Collective, and others. We will also explore various legal and other practical tools developed by cultural producers for asserting one’s rights and expectations as arts workers, including Helena Keeffe’s Standard Deviation, Mary Beth Edelson’s Artist Contract, and Seth Siegelaub’s The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement. Participants will formulate scenarios for their own “non-participation,” considering when they can and should say “no.”


I’ll be in Denmark next week to give a series of presentations on my upcoming project Non-Participation, and on the notion of Critical Circulation.

My first stop is Bureau Publik in Copenhagen on January 21, followed by rum46 in Aarhus on the 22nd and 23rd.




Non-Participation is an ongoing collection of letters of refusal written by artists and other cultural producers to decline their participation in cultural events or exhibitions for political or ethical reasons. The issues raised by these artists’ letters include the non-payment of artists’ fees, the denial of copyright control, censorship, corporate funding, and many others. To quote one such letter by artist Michael Rakowitz, “sometimes what we say ‘no’ to is more important than what we agree to.”

We will discuss past and present examples of cultural producers advocating for improved labor conditions, such as the Art Workers Coalition, W.A.G.E., The CarrotWorkers Collective, and others. We will also explore various legal and practical tools developed for asserting one’s rights as arts workers, including Helena Keeffe’s Standard Deviation, Mary Beth Edelson’s Artist Contract, and Seth Siegelaub’s The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement. In a climate of increasing precarity, class stratification, and pervasive pressure upon artists to offer their labor for free, the agency in the act refusal has gained new urgency.

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