Eligibility Criteria (and beyond)

An ongoing research exploring the ways in which eligibility criteria create barriers in the lives of artists


The art world and systemic inequalities are phrases that go hand in hand, the former being highly visible and the latter not that much. Although Covid-19 pandemic gave us an adjective, unprecedented, to define our time, our art world maintained its precedented requirements to determine who gets access to what. It is still very unlikely to read ‘anyone can apply’ to art open calls while we all memorized the sentence structure for who can apply: Artists of a certain-nationality, based in certain-places, younger than certain-years-old, and yes graduates of that certain-school, among other restrictions.

This research questions who is neglected in the categorisation of eligibility criteria, and how this neglect affects the production of new art works. It explores how criteria reproduce oppression through bureaucracy and aims to start a dialogue between artists to re-examine eligibility criteria in art open calls. Throughout this research residency, I will have conversations with artists, discuss eligibility together, and collectively write for an open call that is open to all. Together we will also walk around intersecting subjects of eligibility as the discussions appear.

Interview | Conversations with artists

This section involves semi-structured interviews and not-structured daily conversations with artists. I’ll explore how certain artistic productions were made possible or impossible as a result of eligibility criteria in art open calls, and how facing restrictions affected the creation of new works.

Performance | Bureau of Commons

For some artists, their eligibility to work is tied to the type of residence permit they hold. This section focuses on conversations around visa eligibility and how visa categorisation disrupts the lives of artists and their freedom of movement.

Collective Writing | Open open call

This section involves a collaborative writing workshop to create an open call with one criterion in mind: anyone can apply. In the first half of the workshop, participants are given cues to think about who is neglected in the categorisation of eligibility criteria, and reflect on how this neglect affects the production of new art works. In the second half, participants collectively imagine what an open open call looks like, and write about which text should go in an inclusive open call.

Exhibition | The Open Call Wheel

This section will gather a collection of open calls written by artists and curators who prepared a utopic call with one criterion in mind: each open call must use an A4-size paper. These open calls are created to question the writing style used in art open calls, and to break that style to point out existing issues in current art open calls.


Betül Aksu is an artist and researcher with a background in media arts, cognitive science, and linguistics. Her work explores what it means to be permitted to live, work, and breathe in a certain territory. She uses language as an art material, observes intercultural miscommunication, and reflects on systemic reasons that cause communication barriers.