Art League Houston presents Non-Participation opening reception
Art League Houston will present Non-Participation, organized by Lauren van Haaften-Schick. Non-Participation is a collection of letters written by artists to decline invitations to participate in cultural events for various political or ethical reasons. In recent years there has been a surge of public protest against highly notable and prestigious art events, including the 2014 Whitney Biennial, The 19th Sidney Biennale, Manifesta 10, and many others. Concurrent with this phenomenon is an increase in attention to artists' labor rights, as evident in the great interest in Working Artists for the Greater Economy's W.A.G.E. Certification system, and major conferences facilitating new ways of speaking about art and labor, such as the Art League Houston's charge practicum. In this moment of encouraging upheaval in the arts, Non-Participation seeks to collect the evidence of these efforts and make visible the key role that acts of refusal and withdrawal might play in introducing reform. In the words of artist Michael Rakowitz, "what an artist refuses is sometimes more important than what he or she agrees to."
The act of non-participation extends beyond a statement of "no." It forces a pause or stoppage allowing for the reconsideration of our routine modes of production and of the transactions in which we take part, and leads us to ask why it is that we might feel pressured to say an unqualified "yes." The activation of non-participation as strategy and method is dually tied to histories of protest as well as creative destruction, wherein the aim is to reveal a new form of production that disrupts the reproduction of the standards in place. As written documents, the letters and statements within this project comprise an archive of pauses, breaks, risk, and non-reproduction. The declaration and inscription of "N-O" remains the foundation, for it ends with an opening.
Following the opening reception, the exhibit will be on display through January 11, 2016.