DFBRL8R Performance Art Apprentice Program is an alternative pedagogical system of structured mentorship designed to provide professional experience, practical knowledge, and applicable skills to artists who want to be versed in the presentation of time-based performance practices. In exchange for this experience, DFBRL8R Apprentices provide the energy and labor necessary to sustain our non-profit, gaining insight into the inner workings – the struggles and triumphs – of a unique organization.

Lal Avgen | ‘Kara’s Dunkelness’ | Photo by Andrei Venghiac


Defibrillator Gallery, based in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, works toward furthering the discipline of Performance Art. That means putting practitioners out into the world who are skilled and knowledgeable about the artform along with the often demanding and idiosyncratic modes of presentation. We advocate for higher standards and framing of Performance Art in order to create better conditions for artists and foster understanding of time-based practices among the general public. Actively contributing to a global dialog surrounding conceptual, ephemeral, or enigmatic forms of expression, DFBRL8R raises awareness, appreciation, and respect for the medium of Performance Art.


DFBRL8R Performance Art Apprentice Program lasts ONE year from Aug 01 2018 to AUG 01 2019 with a final exhibition mid-August 2019. Apprentices are required to commit (on average) a minimum of 10 hours a week with a mix of on-site group work sessions and independent projects. Our monthly exhibitions usually take place on the 2nd Sunday at 6PM at Zhou B Art Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood, though times and locations may vary. We also present visual art exhibitions, with occasional performances, at the popular Zhou B 3rd Fridays from 7-10PM. As a result, the second and third weeks of the month will be  the most demanding in terms of on-site work sessions [install and production]. The first and last weeks of each month are more administrative, focusing on artist correspondence, publicity, development, archive, operations, and preparing for the next cycle of events .


  • FEEDBACK SESSIONS. DFBRL8R Director Joseph Ravens responds to your current or past work.
  • MEETING ARTISTS. Gain valuable insight into how artists from around the world work and live. Make meaningful and valuable connections with artists, organizations, and communities.
  • PRACTICAL SKILLS. Apprentices receive a lot of applicable skills and knowledge about the presentation of performance art and running a non profit 501c3 organization.
  • PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITIES. Apprentices are often offered opportunities to participate in works by guest artists or collaborate in a meaningful way. Successful participants are invited to present their work in a final showcase in August of 2019.
  • MOP TALK. Informal discussion sessions take place once a month. The group will engage in conversations ranging from the prior exhibition to an analysis of a particular genre or idea. These visits may include virtual interviews/conversations with guests, along with other advice and information about theories, ethics, protocols, and professional development.
  • RUB ELBOWS. Meet influential people in the art world.
  • MEALS. Work sessions lasting six hours or longer include a simple meal. Snacks, coffee, tea, etc. are always available during work sessions.
  • STUDIO TIME. Access to unused space, time, or equipment for artistic development.
  • DISCOUNTS. Visiting artist workshop rates are often discounted or waived.
  • ALUMNUS. Student rates, discounts, letters of recommendation and access to VIP events for life, upon request.


TIER ONE | The official DFBRL8R Performance Art Apprentice team will consist of five individuals, each person responsible for one of the five categories below, guided and directed by DFBRL8R staff.


  • Maintain and catalog photo, video, and object archives [past and future]
  • Manage, archive, and disperse documentation of all events
  • Arrange artist talks, panels, discussions, and publications [discourse]

Assets + Development

  • Seek funding through grants and donations
  • Arrange fundraising events
  • Develop other models for income
  • Gather and maintain a collection of art/objects for sale + cultivate collector base


  • Gather logistical information regarding artist needs for each work.
  • Source materials and equipment
  • Install and meet all production and technical needs
  • Hospitality


  • Non Profit Administration
  • Bookkeeping
  • Calendar and scheduling
  • Space coordination
  • Contracts, forms, and Protocols
  • Correspondence
  • Maintain relationships with Board of Directors and Benefactors

Public Relations

  • Cultivating publicity [contacts/allies] in a variety of outlets
  • Social Media management and innovation
  • Web updates and design
  • Graphic Design
  • Email announcements
  • Arrange social events, receptions, dinners

TIER TWO | The Apprentice Support Program [AppS] is a lighter commitment. This team will help with production and hospitality, providing much needed random support in high volume moments [primarily the 2nd and 3rd weeks of the month]. If an opening in the DFBRL8R Apprentice Program should arise, replacements will be drawn of the AppS Program. Also, members of the AppS Program are eligible to apply for a DFBRL8R Apprenticeship the following term. AppS participants qualify for all of the advantages listed above with the exception of studio visits|quarterly review and final exhibition.

Additionally, all Apprentices will be expected to be Invigilators for guest artists, responsible for meeting all of the artists’ needs. This relationship is symbiotic: the artist has a touch stone and feels confident that they are being supported, while Apprentices gain valuable insight into a working artist’s process, practice, and life. Hospitality is very important. When artists feel nurtured and supported they deliver their best work.


Every three months, DFBRL8R Apprentices meet with DFBRL8R Staff who provide feedback on the students’ artistic work through studio visits, and review the Apprentice’s commitment to the organization.  Monitoring growth and development of creative concepts and ideas, we actively encourage participants to maintain their personal art practices. Review dates are: NOV 01, FEB 01, MAY 01, AUG 01 [exit interview]. Successful candidates will present work in the annual Apprentice Showcase taking place SUN 11 AUG 2019.


We regret that we aren’t in a position to promise a stipend at this time; HOWEVER we are actively applying for grants, planning fundraisers, and approaching donors in order to provide small honorariums  to our apprentices and staff. With luck and diligence, we may be able to offer something at the beginning of 2019.


Defibrillator [a.k.a. DFBRL8R] was formed in 2010 as a platform for Performance Art and is one of very few organizations worldwide with this focus. Contextualizing performance within the realm of visual art, DFBRL8R embraces those who look to the body in concert and conversation with time, space, object, nature, architecture, or society. Bold and courageous programming aims to provoke thought and stimulate discourse surrounding underrepresented voices and time-based forms of expression. Working with both established and emerging artists, DFBRL8R is dedicated to fostering local makers while invigorating Chicago with artists of exceptional calibre from around the world.

APPLY HERE [https://goo.gl/forms/jZlrswY39aPYpgfF2]

Deadline: 22 JUL | Interviews: 23-27 JUL | Notification: 28 JUL | 2018

Email questions to Communications Director, Michael Bridges: MichaelBridges@dfbrl8r.org