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Debtfair is an ongoing artistic campaign to expose the relationship between economic inequality in the art market and artists’ growing debt burdens. Occupy Museums and 516 ARTS invite New Mexico-based artists to collectively exhibit their artwork within the context of their economic realities. Visual artists of all backgrounds are encouraged to participate.

Artists’ profiles will be collected through an open call process [click here to begin your submission], which includes a questionnaire about artists’ economic lives. All artists’ profiles will be displayed digitally within the exhibition and on In addition, a group of artists with shared conditions will be selected for physical display at 516 ARTS. The final installation will be exhibited at 516 ARTS as part of a larger exhibition entitled Currency on view November 17, 2018 through January 26, 2019. 

Artworks selected for physical display in Debtfair will be for sale, but not in the normal way that art is sold. Mirroring the way debts are sold and traded, artworks in Debtfair will be sold in “bundles”—groups of artworks representing shared conditions among their makers. Proceeds will be shared among the participating artists. Through this exchange, Debtfair connects private debts and the aspirational art market.

Being in debt often elicits feelings of shame and social isolation. Debtfair begins with the premise that nearly everyone in our society carries personal debt; therefore, debt can also unite us. If we highlight the hidden layers of artists’ lives, debt can prove to be an empowering medium. 

Please contact with any questions.

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Debtfair New Mexico as part of 516 ARTS’ exhibition Currency will open November 17, 2018 and will be on view through January 26, 2019. All work on display will remain on view until the close of the exhibition. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday, October 26, 2018

Saturday, November 3 & Monday, November 5, 2018, 12-5pm. Hand delivery to 516 ARTS, 516 Central Avenue SW, Albuquerque, New Mexico. For artists more than 100 miles from Albuquerque please inquire about delivery options.

Saturday, November 17, 2018, 6-8pm

January 29 – February 5, 2019, 12-5pm

All New Mexico area artists are eligible to submit original artwork for this exhibition. There is no fee to apply. Artists do not need to be in debt to participate. The subject of the artwork can be about anything and does not have to address debt. All artworks will be displayed in the museum, either digitally on a screen or as physical objects. The objects selected must be delivered ready to hang, on a rigid support and no larger than 14 (w) x 24 (h) x 3 (d) inches.

In order to participate, artists are required to create a profile on the Debtfair website (named or anonymously) and answer questions regarding their economic conditions by October 5, 2018. 

Drafted by Occupy Museums

Do I have to be in debt to participate?
A: No, you do not have to be in debt to participate in Debtfair. You can be someone who has no debt but considers themselves to be an ally, or maybe you just think the project is interesting and want to be part of it and that's fine too. 

Do I have to live in New Mexico to participate?
A: Currently we are focusing on the picture of art and debt in New Mexico, so at the moment yes. But please do email us with any ideas of messages of solidarity or new information about how debt among the arts community functions in the US and abroad.

Does my artwork have to be about debt or finance to participate/Which themes are preferred in Debtfair?
A: No, your artwork can be about any subject, Debtfair is not organized by the subject matter of the artworks, though we are interested to see the diversity of themes that artists are working with. 

Do you guys think that artists are special and should not have to pay debts while everyone else should?
A: No, we do not see artists as exceptional within the debt crisis. Private debt is a factor of most American's lives and municipal debts effect most people in the world. We are organizing artists around debt because we ourselves are apart of this community and can make a greater and more focused impact. If artists come to understand their potential for debt solidarity, it can fan out to wider circles as it already has in some cases.  

Do you have a plan to pay off the debt of the artists that apply to Debtfair?
A: No we have not developed a plan that eradicates the enormous problem of debt. We have tried to pay off artists debts through this system in the past but with little success. For now, we feel that the most important step to take toward concrete changes for debtors facing odious debt burdens is to organize. 

How will the artists whose work is shown physically in the museum be selected?
A: After we have received all the questionnaires by October 5th, we will sort through the data and select groups or "bundles" or artists based on factors that have to do with their debts. That is why we are asking so many specific questions about your financial realities!

How will my work/ profile be digitally represented at 516 ARTS?
A: We will display monitors with slideshows of artworks along with your written thoughts about how debt effects your art practice. 

Will the personal information on the questionnaire be revealed publically, how can I be sure that my privacy is protected?
A:  We will not reveal your total debt amount, or any specific information about your debts individually. We will only use these factors to organize artists collectively. 

What if I choose to remove my profile from later on?
A: You can edit or remove your profile at any time. 

If you have questions not covered here, please email Deptfair at debtfair (at)


This project is made possible in part by:

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