PRESENT TENSE: Call for Artists

Display Date: 
Deadline: July 10, 2020
Level 2.5

Present Tense  
Making Art in a Global Pandemic


Call for Artists

Seemingly overnight, everything changed. Many of our routines and ways of meeting the world around us were drastically shifted. We learned to practice physical distancing while remaining as socially connected as possible. We developed new methods of consumption, new economies of customer service and witnessed the emergence of new staples like sanitizers and face masks. Now, we have a collective opportunity to reimagine the kind of world we want to return to. We can dream about new ways of defining ‘normalcy’ and begin to propagate systems and structures to facilitate change.

To better understand our collective experience and to inhabit imagined futures, we look to our artists. For some, not much has changed in their artistic productivity as many practices are largely an individual venture in the best of times. Others have seen residencies and exhibition opportunities disappear, postponed or creatively reconfigured.

When we return, we aim to look back and project forward in the Present Tense.

What is it?

Present Tense is an experimental exhibition program highlighting artists from across Newfoundland & Labrador. Taking place at The Rooms on Level 2.5, this series encourages experimental platforms. Much like a working laboratory, questions should be asked, trials should be developed, failures still have meaning and successes are appreciated. The series resides somewhere between a formal gallery exhibition, an open studio and a research residency. Not all work needs to be finished, or even fit traditional rubrics of what artwork is. Present Tense seeks to be inclusive and expansive, encompassing all aspects of artistic practice and creators. Web-based extensions or components of projects are encouraged, but not required.

Who is it for?

To be eligible for this open call:

  • You have resided in Newfoundland and Labrador during quarantine (roughly March – May 2020) and the preceding 12 months.
  • You produce artwork in any medium.
  • The contents of your proposal have not been formally exhibited before (emphasis on work produced after physical distancing began).
  • You are open to experimental platforms and presentations. You acknowledge that the exhibition space on Level 2.5 is not a traditional white-cube gallery space.

What is in it for you?

  • 6-12 artists will be selected for an exhibition on Level 2.5 at The Rooms
    • Successful artists will receive professional artist fees.
    • Exhibitions will be scheduled within 12-18 months of The Rooms reopening.
    • Specific exhibition lengths will be determined by The Rooms, but we anticipate exhibitions will be approximately 6 weeks long.
    • Up to $250 production budget for presentation materials / printing (receipts required).
  • Opportunity for web-based programming
    • In discussion with The Programming and Public Engagement Division of The Rooms, we aim to offer each successful artist the opportunity to facilitate some form of community oriented web-based programming.
    • Programs could include an artist talk, a reading group, an experimental ‘tour’ of the exhibition or framework of presented ideas, a workshop webinar, and/or other innovative solutions.
    • Artists will receive professional artist fees for programming.
  • Virtual studio visits for all longlisted artists
    • All artists on the longlist will receive a 30-60 minute virtual studio visit with a curator from The Rooms.

Artists will be assigned a curator by The Rooms and scheduling will be on a case-by-case basis via Skype or Zoom.

Where is it?

The exhibitions will be held on Level 2.5 at The Rooms. Please see the images for examples of how the space has been used recently.

Logan MacDonald, Installation detail from Bæōdut / Hidden Histories (2019). Photo courtesy of The Rooms.

About Level 2.5 Gallery:

  • The overall size of the gallery is 4.8 (w) x 4.8 (h) x 4.9 (d) meters (16’ 2” x 15’ 9” x 15’ 9”].
  • There are 32 vitrines in total.
    • 16 of the vitrines have lights (every 2nd one). The lights are fixed in place but are fiber optic – so they are very small and there is no heat produced. Lights cannot be removed but they can all be turned off.
    • For mounting images/works inside each vitrine (pressed up against the glass from the rear), the viewable area is 48.25 (h) x 54 (w) cm [19 x 21.25 in].
    • For mounting images/works on the face of each vitrine (mounted to the glass like a vinyl), add 2.8 cm [1.125 in] to the top and bottom to accommodate covering the metal bars on each vitrine.
    • The internal dimensions of each vitrine is 48.25 (h) x 48.25 (w) x 14 (d) cm [19 x 19 x 5.5 in).
    • You do not need to use the vitrines in your application, but should address how you imagine them being in the space.

Specific spatial characteristics:

  • Note that the stone walls are not able to have any holes, permanent fixatives or other permanent modifications. However, we are able to use Command Tabs to hang something mounted to foam core, for example.
  • There are 2-3 display tables that are available for use. These tables have cubic lids (approx.. 10” tall) with Plexi-glas windows on the top. A variety of plinths and other cases are also available. List your ideal requirements in application and we will discuss options with successful applicants.
  • The space can accommodate up to 2 televisions or other similar media (as per available space and power)
  • There are limitations on modifications to the space.


Application Requirements

All applications must include the following:

  • Current CV.
  • Up to 15 images and/or video files (collectively totaling no more than 10:00 minutes)
    • Include artwork/image descriptions (title, date, medium, length, and any other helpful information).
    • Images: Small – Medium JPEGS or PDF. Preference is to submit as a single PDF to keep file sizes manageable. Please be considerate of inbox sizes.
    • Videos: Provide link(s) to Vimeo / YouTube with password(s), as required.
  • Traditional Artist Statement (up to 250 words)
  • Quarantine Statement (up to 250 words)
    • Think of like a Statement of Interest.
    • Respond to the unique parameters and ambitions of this call from the perspective of your artistic practice.
  • Laboratory Statement (up to 250 words)
    • How can you envision your practice and/or presentation fitting the experimental ambitions and in-process context of this call?
    • How is your proposal adaptable and/or maximizing the unique physical characteristics of Level 2.5?
  • If required, outline budget for presentation expenses (photo printing, materials, etc.) up to a maximum of $250.00 CAD. Physical receipts will be required for compensation.

Additional application information:

  • Incomplete or late submissions will not be accepted or considered.
  • All artists will be notified of application status as soon as possible.
  • All applications must be submitted digitally. We are not accepting physical applications.
  • We welcome applications from collaborations, groups, collectives and similar arrangements. Support material should reflect the collaborative practice and singularly fit within the stated application requirements (ie. one application total, not one application or set of support material for each creator)

All submissions must be received no later than 5:00 pm (NT) on July 10 2020.


How to submit

Send your complete application to:, Use “Present Tense Application” as your subject line