Subsurface tensions Open Call for the WRONG

  • Location: online and Phoenix, AZ
  • Deadline: Sep 26 2023 at 3:00AM

Beneath the surface of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona (USA) lies a vast network of burrows, tunnels, and rocky hideouts that establish a subterranean commons filled with nonhuman species. A flourishing microbiome, these (under)commons illuminate the complex entanglements desert ecologies have that can support life in what has otherwise been described as desolate, empty, or even vapid. As urban sprawl migrates outwards in a parasitic fashion, these unseen (under)commons continue to experience their own kind of metropolitan degradation, impacting not only the animals that flourish but the expansive microbiome that is further struggling due to the persistent climate crisis. 

Evoking adrienne marie brown’s idea of being in “right relationship” with the planet, a notion that enables how we feel and navigate pleasure as we experience life on Earth, this curatorial project seeks work that considers the underground as a productive site for shifts that impact the surface. Thinking expansively about the underground as a site of natural, political, and social life, this exhibition highlights recent and ongoing work by artists representing the global majority who are engaged in creative projects across media.

Some initial questions:

• In what ways do subterranean infrastructures, whether natural or industrial, impact what happens above ground? 

• How might we imagine the invisible, the hidden, the unseen as conceptual, material, or critical frameworks to understand this important moment in building new relationships to the land? 

• What does underground life, either real or imagined, look like? How do these networks/meshworks reveal themselves? 

• What stories about the political underground(s) have yet to be told/shared/written? 

• What metaphors exist between mycorrhizal relations and experimental aesthetics?


Artists representing the global majority, regardless of location or age, are welcome to apply. Global majority artists are understood as people who are or are descendants of African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, or Native/First Nations people.




Artists may submit up to 3 works in total. 

This exhibition will be supported by two modalities: 

an online Pavillion; and 

an on-site Embassy in an office building (please see notes below).


Especially considered projects include: 

- text-based work (including code-based work, text works, txt works, short essay/creative nonfiction, etc);- audio/visual media (video, audio, sound recordings, experimental film, etc); or- expanded lens-based media (digital photography, 3D models, interactive worlds, games, etc). 


All other works across other media will also be considered.


10-15 artists will be selected for this exhibition. 

All artists will have dedicated space in the online Pavillion and potentially on-site depending on the nature of the work. I will reach out to selected artists directly to discuss the logistics of the Embassy exhibition.

This project is hosted by TWOSIXTEEN, a curatorial project run by alejandro t. acierto. 

ALL SUBMISSIONS ARE DUE SEP 25, 2023 AT 11:59PM PST (GMT -8).TIMELINE:Sept 25, 2023 - call is closedSept 30, 2023 - decisions made/emails sentOct  2023 - Pavillion (online) previewNov 2023 - Pavillion (online) goes live

mid-Nov or Dec 2023 - Embassy opens with issue of initial publication