Call for Entries: The Decay Project

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Entry Deadline: Mar. 1

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Things fall apart. But what happens next? How and why do we fight to preserve material things, objects both precious and personal? How do we make sense of the constant material change happening all around us?

The Chemical Heritage Foundation announces a juried Call for Entries in coordination with The Decay Project, an interdisciplinary project incorporating a feature exhibition, walking tour, and suite of public programs. Between November 1, 2016, and March 1, 2017, artists living and/or working in the greater Philadelphia region are invited to submit proposals for individual artworks to be displayed during the run of the exhibition.

Exhibition Themes

The Decay Project will examine both the realities and deeper cultural values of decay and material change. Material things often embody a tension between permanence and fleetingness. We act as if we expect certain things to last “forever” (monuments, keepsakes), while we are aware of other things’ ephemerality (fast fashion, Post-It notes). Both synthetic and so-called natural materials decay over time: compounds break down to their component parts, solids crumble, surfaces develop a patina or rust. Yet decay also has broader social implications connected to mortality and narratives of cultural rise and fall. Our own bodies grow, renew, and break down.

Works must explore some aspect of our major exhibition themes, including:

–Decay can be beautiful. What are the aesthetics of decay and material change? Why might objects that “wear” their histories on their surfaces—like patinated metal, weathered wood, and so on—appear beautiful to the observer?
–Decay can tell a story. Heat, light, humidity, pests, and other natural forces can change the appearance of objects. The manner of that change can tell us that object’s history—damage and repair, exposure and loss—as well as shed light on the lives of the people who made and used it.
–How do we deal with decay? How do human beings combat the loss of the material? What do we value, what do we discard, and what do we preserve?
–What does decay mean for the future? Material things can’t last forever. Some are designed to last only a short while. What will the next generation fight to keep or to erase?

Key Dates and Guidelines

–Complete proposals must be submitted before the deadline at 12 midnight, March 1, 2017. No partial proposals will be considered.
–Proposals MUST be submitted via e-mail at [email protected]. No physical mail submissions will be considered.
–We are unable to accept works consisting of decaying organic matter that could be hazardous to visitors or the museum environment, such as actively rotting foodstuffs, waste materials, etc.
–Submitting artists must reside and/or work within a 100-mile radius of the City of Philadelphia.

Proposals MUST include the following information:
–Artist’s full name and contact information (address, phone, e-mail)
–A brief biography/resume/summary of experience for the submitting artist (max. 500 words)
–A brief description of the proposed artwork, including dimensions, media/materials, and all technical specifications (for example, if power/data connections are required, if work requires a vitrine or enclosure, etc.)
–A short statement on the proposed artwork’s relationship to the themes of The Decay Project (max. 500 words)
–Images of the proposed artwork or representative sample(s) of previous works comparable to the proposed artwork (max. 5 images, in JPG, PNG, or PDF format ONLY)

Selection Process

Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee whose members include City Hall exhibitions manager Tu Huynh of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy; master lecturer in museum design Keith Ragone, University of the Arts; and interdisciplinary artist and public historian Erin Bernard, founder and curator of the Philadelphia Public History Truck and a former member of the Little Berlin collective.

Finalists will be notified of their status by March 24, 2017. Artists chosen to proceed to the final round will be required to submit a finished artwork (either the proposed piece or a representative sample) for in-person review and judging by the CHF selection committee in early April 2017. Artists will be responsible for all transportation and handling of artworks.

Final submission and installation of works for exhibition will take place in May 2017. Artists chosen for exhibition will receive an honorarium of $2,000 for their participation.

Questions about the application process? Contact us at [email protected].

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