Reflecting on impact

Let’s look at my results and efforts for the open calls in 2018 I submitted. To be frank, it was quite disappointing that none of my project proposals has been picked up. Many hours and much energy and imagination went into them. But failure has a better learning curve than success, they say.

However, once the results are published the question stays how much can be learned from the sparse feedback? Earlier I made a strong argument for advanced learning in this former post and therefore I want to analyse what has happened lately. What lessons can I draw out of this?

I submitted 4 concise and thought-out proposals for 4 open calls, one in Amsterdam, one in Sweden, one in Italy and one in Germany. See here for parts of my proposals. The respective emailed or web-published results were as follows. Then I added some self-reflections.


We thank you for submitting your artwork for Amsterdam Light Festival’s Call for Concepts 2018-2019. The curatorial team has received over 600 submissions from artists from 52 different countries worldwide.

We much value the effort you have put into your submission, but regret to inform you that your artwork “I KNOW YOU ARE THERE” has not been selected for Round 2 of our Call for Concepts.

There were many interesting proposals that we, unfortunately, had to reject. Some of them were not selected because they have been presented or executed before, some had technical aspects that are not feasible and other proposals were not convincingly connected to the theme. Sometimes we had to choose between similar proposals.

The incredible diversity and consistently high quality of the submissions made the judging procedure a challenging job. Nonetheless, we have selected around 100 proposals that this year’s festival jury will consider in Round 2 for realisation for Amsterdam Light Festival 2018-2019.

Reflection: based on this information I can only speculate that my proposal may lack in connection to the theme or there is some chance that my proposal reminded to a work presented in one of the earlier 6 editions. I simply had no chance to visit all editions.


Thank you again for applying for Art Inside Out´s residency in Aeskhult (Kungsbacka municipality, Sweden), in fall 2018!

The selection process is now finalized. We received 319 qualified applications from all over the world. The selection jury reviewed every single application with great interest, and have now made their decisions.

We have to inform you that you, unfortunately, are not one of the artists to be offered residency in Aeskhult.

Open Call for Art Inside Out-residency in spring 2019 will be published during fall of 2018 and you are more than welcome with another application then.

Reflection: No indication at all leaves me only guessing. There has not been any mentioning of which 3 winners were selected, so no clues yet available.


In collaboration with Fondazione Zegna, UNIDEE – University of Ideas is glad to announce the six finalists selected to participate in the module “Expanded body #2 _ Inhabiting Time. An experience about Time in the Oasi Zegna”.        .….

The jury, after the evaluation of the professional experiences and motivations of the 250 applicants, chose to support transdisciplinary experimental researches, and agreed to select a heterogeneous and international group of participants highlighting the multiplicity of the contemporary art scene operating in the public space. The main criteria for the selection have been the quality of curricula, the tendency for experimentation and the ability to formalise.

Reflection: Based on the selection of winners (names, country and years of birth are given) I suspect that age and former educational background might be my disadvantage in this case.


The Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art has awarded three six-months work grants for 2017. The grants of 10.000 Euro are sponsored by Stiftung Niedersachsen. 357 artists from all over the world have applied for the grants.     …..

The Jury statement: Sex and Drugs and Work Forever!  The jury was impressed both by the overall quality of the applications and also that many of the proposals shared similar concerns. In particular, there were a number of projects that sought to address working conditions in a technologically mediated society. The three awardees shared an interest in sex or drug-taking as activities that have been profoundly commodified in recent years. They all use artefacts or individuals from the modernist past as the lenses through which they try to read our current condition as individual workers active at different levels of society, from poorly paid sex workers to hyper productive (and sexualised) managers in Silicon Valley.

Reflection: My proposal here was far more aimed towards an art experience with a technological system than into the socio-political direction, which is clearly presented here. This difference makes me aware that I have to know the institution really well to be able to present a relevant proposal.


Overseeing the results, the quantitative summary is:

  • 600 submissions / 35 granted / 6 %
  • 319 submissions / 3 granted / 1 %
  • 250 submissions / 6 granted / 2 %
  • 357 submissions / 3 granted / 1 %


One has to conclude that chances are statistically slim to get chosen as an artist these days. The numbers state that you need to make at least 20 till 50 or more applications to get one residency! Then, let’s assume that a proposal takes on average 3 days of work, as in my case, this would mean a time investment of more than 2 till 3 months full-time. Calculating like this, I am realising that this would be a real hefty workload for a very uncertain outcome.

And let me remind you, this is working for free again, which seems to be an integral part of the arts industry. An interesting finding for the UK concerning these matters, is the highly recommended Panic! Report. It also concludes that many artists believe in ‘meritocracy’, i.e. ambition, hard work and talent, is fundamental for getting ahead as an artist. Social factors like age, gender, class and who you know, or better, who knows you and what are your networking skills, are in my opinion as equally important.


I read an interesting study about what is it about to be a professional artist nowadays and how to make a living in the arts:—careers-in-the-arts-visions-for-the-future. It argues that there are mainly three narratives about the successful professional artist.

Firstly, it is about artistic quality, which also translates into:

  • Where did he/she study, graduate, did any promotions?
  • Where did he/she exhibit so far (group exhibitions, solo’s, in what context and so on)?
  • Is he/she well-known and because of what kind of work?

Secondly, it is about the entrepreneurial skills, which mainly translates into: ‘does he/she earn money with his art’ and what kind of paid projects are done?

Citing the Panic! Report once again, “older and more established creative workers often see the experience of unpaid work as one of underpay or of choice and autonomy”. I think the latter argument of keeping my autonomy is valid for me too. My selection for residencies is also based on the principle that there should be a viable grant available, otherwise I will not submit as I do not want to work for free. Of course, any exchange in immaterial values will be put in the balance too. This is for instance the case with the master’s project.

Thirdly, has the work of the artist social impact in a way recognisable outside the art world?


I asked myself whether do I focus on the artistic part most or should I be more entrepreneurially minded or aim for more social impact?

This question in this context of (not) getting any preferred residency lately, makes me realise that in following proposals I should be even more emphasising and articulating the social impact of the works I propose.