Imagine Our Parks

A project by Krista Caballero and Trudi Lynn Smith. To mark the 27th year since the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC canceled Robert Mapplethorpe’s show, “The Perfect Moment” (June 13, 1989), and to mark the one-year anniversary of Wyoming Senate Bill 12, which helped criminalize citizen science (March 10, 2015), Imagine Our Parks (IOP) is a call to action that addresses the complexities of “public funding for the arts” and “public lands.”

The full call for Imagine Our Parks

Imagine Our Parks “The Perfect Moment”: A Call to Action

IOP is looking for artists to join us at different places along an artist-led expedition beginning in (present-day) Yellowstone National Park, (the first USAmerican national park) and traveling along the 42nd parallel. After Yellowstone, the campsite installation will move to the City of Rocks Natural Reserve, ID; Oregon Desert Trail (Southeast OR); and Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park Campground, CA. These locations have been selected to explore types of ‘public’ lands, shifting boundaries, borders and edges. Invited artists will be asked to install their work or create a performance within one of the camps itself or nearby.


Imagine Our Parks is a response to Imagine Your Parks, a call for projects created by the USAmerican National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Park Service (NPS). The NEA and NPS call invities “a new generation of Americans to find their park” as a way of marking 100 years of parks (2016) and 50 years of public arts funding (2015). The NPS strategic “Call to Action” supports a mandate to preserve [certain] lands and historic features designated for their “cultural and historic significance, scenic and environmental worth, and educational and recreational opportunities.” The NEA emphasizes funding for [certain] groups. Together, the NEA/NPS grant will fund projects that prepare “for a second century of stewardship and engagement” through support of organizations at the expense of some artists, whose work, as a result, becomes marginalized by an impenetrable bureaucracy.

Counter to this language and to the limitations of bureaucracy, we are invested in the language of art and in providing spaces for individual artists and different community formations. Our call for proposals, “The Perfect Moment”: A Call to Action seeks projects that are produced and proposed by artists that encourage alternative models of participation, engagement and stewardship. Playing with ideas about parks, we are also interested in examining the discourse of “artistic expression of thrilling landscapes and moving [US]American stories”, promoted by the NEA and NPS.

IOP is not simply a reaction. We are inspired by the potential of moving beyond the limitations of the NEA/NPS call and the obvious critique that can be lodged against it. We want to face parks as real, everyday realities rather than (only) romantic, symbolic tourist/adventure spaces. We are looking for projects that think beyond the habit of binaries (good and bad, inside and outside, art and science) to promote a mode of praxis, whereby we can imagine and enact different and possible futures through art.

Call to Action

Imagine yourself in a camp with creatures that don’t exist, tents that act like cameras, a field desk where you can pull up a stool and cook dinner, write a poem, or think. You may bring into camp a painting, a sculpture, a gesture, a talisman, a sound, a movement, a poem…or something else….and spend the day installing it or performing in the camp or a nearby site in the “park.”

“The Perfect Moment”: A Call to Action seeks projects that engage the complexities of organizations, cultures and places to imagine a future beyond parks that cannot be contained. The IOP camp will be an installation space, made of objects, performances and reading, soundscapes, and ephemera. When you leave camp, we ask that you loan a relic of your participation. Apply to join us at one of the four sites.

The project will start on June 13, 2016 the anniversary of “The Perfect Moment.”

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