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CURRENTS 2024: Free Expression and the Inexpressible

EXHIBITION DATES: January 6 - February 4, 2024

DEADLINE: September 30, 2023 at 11:59 PM EDT


         A.I.R. Gallery is currently accepting submissions for the 2024 CURRENTS Exhibition, Free Expression and the Inexpressible, through September 30, 2023. Curated by artist and theorist Aliza Shvarts, this exhibition invites work from artists working across all forms and disciplines who are interrogating the edges of free expression, mining its history, and positing new ways of thinking about what we can and cannot express. 

         “Freedom of expression” is a principle and right that is meant to protect the voices of the disempowered. Crucially, it promises to safeguard our capacity to speak our truth, critique systems of power, and demand a better world. Yet free expression has never been a right without exception, or even a right enforced and distributed equally. At times, the freedom of expression of some comes at the expense of the silencing of others—particularly women, queer people, people of color, indigenous people, and people with disabilities. In these instances, “freedom” can be an alibi for reinforcing domination: a term invoked to disavow language’s violent effects when someone says something hateful.

         We are living through a dramatic repolarization of the cultural debates over the meaning of free expression. Between the alarming rise in book bans, restrictions on drag performance, and legislation such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, there has been an unprecedented rise in censorship and dismantling of First Amendment protections. At the same time, cancel culture, misinformation, and deep fakes have prompted us to reconsider the social responsibility that comes with freedom, while the advent of AI-generated text and images adds further dimension to the age-old question of what it means to “express.” 

         Art has long navigated the space between free expression and the inexpressible. Artistic practice deals in representation, meaning that it navigates the limits of what can be rendered in language, images, performance, and aesthetic experience more broadly. Feminist art in particular has a long history of challenging which forms of expression are valued culturally and which have been dismissed. The 2024 CURRENTS exhibition aims to stage connections between the personal and political dimensions of expression and inexpressibility. Artists are invited to explore expression as a social and legal question as well as a creative, psychological, technological, affective, and material one. 

Aliza Shvarts is an artist and theorist who takes a queer and feminist approach to reproductive labor and language. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Tate Modern, Athens Biennale, Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA, Galeria Municipal do Porto, Galerie Maria Bernheim, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Leslie-Lohman Museum, Participant Inc, Art in General, and SculptureCenter. Her writing and interviews have appeared in October, Artforum, The Cut, e-flux, Art in America, Whitechapel Documents in Contemporary Art: Practice, Art Journal, TDR/The Drama Review, Women & Performance, and The Brooklyn Rail among other publications. She was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program (ISP), Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum, Recess Critical Writing Fellow, A.I.R. Artist Fellow, and Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grantee. She has lectured and taught widely, including at Barnard College, Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. She holds a BA from Yale University and a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University.


  • Works must be pre-existing and ready for exhibition. Proposals for new works are not accepted.
  • Images must be JPG files only.
  • Each image may not exceed 1MB and 1000 pixels in any direction.
  • Images MUST be oriented properly (ex: top of the image is up).
  • Videos must be .MOV or MP4 format only and must not exceed 3 minutes in length.
  • Videos and credits must not contain the artist name.
  • Text submissions must be in PDF format.
  • Sound submissions must be in MP3 format.

THIS IS AN ANONYMOUS REVIEW. Absolutely none of the submitted materials may include the artist’s name; the artist's name may not appear in the file name or body of images, statement, CV, or any other submitted files. If a submitted file contains or is titled with the artist's name, the submission will be disqualified.

         PLEASE NOTE

  • You must fill in all fields and upload at least 3 images in order for your application to be complete.
  • Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
  • Applications will be reviewed in OCTOBER 2023. Due to the large volume of submissions, the gallery is unable to respond to individual inquiries regarding application status.
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