Gulf South Open Call: Who lit the fire?


Who lit the fire? is the CAC's 10th Annual Gulf South Open Call, curated by Anita N. Bateman, Ph.D. The exhibition will open on August 5th and run through October 8th, 2023.

About the Curator

Dr. Anita N. Bateman (she/her) specializes in modern and contemporary African art and the art of the African diaspora with additional expertise in the history of photography, Black Feminism/Womanism, and the role of social media in activism and liberation work.

Bateman earned a doctorate in art history and visual culture and graduate certificate in African and African American Studies from Duke University, a master’s in art history from Duke University, and completed her undergraduate degree in art history, graduating cum laude from Williams College. She has held curatorial positions at the RISD Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Nasher Museum of Art. Her academic research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Bateman was the Fall 2022 ARCAthens Curatorial Fellow and a 2022 Graham Foundation grantee for the forthcoming publication, Where is Africa (Center for Art, Research, and Alliances), co-edited with Emanuel Admassu. She is currently the Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

The Call

The application period has now closed.

“Who lit that fire? Who burned that orchard? Who shot those brothers who laughed their whole lives long?...”
-Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown (2005)

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”
-Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

The Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), New Orleans, is pleased to invite contemporary artists living across the Gulf South region to submit to this year's open call for submissions. Artists who currently live and/or work in LA, TX, AL, MS, FL are eligible to apply. Artists and culture bearers living in Louisiana are encouraged to apply.

The CAC is seeking artists whose works harness radical imagination through frameworks that broadly consider abolition(ism), liberation, environmental sovereignty/justice, diasporas, and speculative ontologies. The cumulative impact of present-day conditions continues to expose our untenable way(s) of living, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the paramilitary executions of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tyre Nichols among countless others. The intersecting crises of racism, economic exploitation, xenophobia, transmisia, and misogynoir have been met with calls to “burn it all down.” Many of those same voices also call for actionable forms of redress– including land back campaigns and the need for reparations– along with provocative, and perhaps, prophetic, approaches for imagining new infrastructures.

Who lit the fire? asks the question, “What are the unrealized potentials imagined in the eradication of systemic oppression that move us beyond the necessity for resilience and responsiveness to perpetual threat?” We welcome submissions that explore the liberatory ethos and productive frictions that undergird emergent strategies and shift our understanding of dissolution, revolution, and resolution against varied forms of supremacy. Together, this exhibition seeks to champion artistic works and practices that propel us toward a yet unrealized vision of the future.

Supported by

The 10th annual Gulf South Open Call is made possible through the generosity of the Greater New Orleans Impact Fund; the Welch Fund; and the RosaMary Foundation.

Programming and Exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans are made possible through generous support from: The Andrew Mellon Foundation; Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; The Helis Foundation, the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Greater New Orleans Foundation Impact Fund; The Welch Foundation; The RosaMary Foundation; Greater New Orleans Foundation; the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council; Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation; National Performance Network; New England Foundation for the Arts; Josephine Whitney Nixon; Baton Rouge Area Foundation; Foley Family Charitable Fund; New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation; Coughlin Saunders Foundation, Inc.; The Freeman-Woollam Foundation; the Poeyfarre Fund; Nurhan Gokturk; George & Milly Denegre Fund; I. William & Jane L; Marrero Land Improvement Association; Virginia Wise & Kevin Wilkins Fund; CAC President’s Council members: Valerie Besthoff, Susan & Ralph Brennan, Dathel & Thomas Coleman, Robyn Dunn Schwarz & Andrew Schwarz, Aimée & Michael Siegel, Staci Rosenberg, Jane B. & Rodney Steiner, MK Wegmann & Lisa Mount, Dian & Tom Winingder, David Workman; and CAC Silver Circle members: Virginia Besthoff & Nancy Aronson, Jessica Bride & Nick Mayor, Leslie & Jonathan Fawer, John Foley, Tina Freeman & Philip Woollam, Marcy H. Monrose Curtis & Charles Curtis, Gina Monette, Greg Montgomery, Barbara & Biff Motley, Robin Rankin, Michael Schneider, Sharron Silvers, Jane & I. William Sizeler, and Gretchen & Scott R. Wheaton. We are also grateful for the generous in-kind support from The Shop at the CAC, The Domain Companies; Corporate Realty, and Selina Catahoula New Orleans; as well as our community partners: Mr. Wolf Espresso & Books; Prospect New Orleans; Voice of the Experienced; and Arts District New Orleans.

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