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Give Over

Opportunity: Seeking artists to engage with media narratives on borders

Give Over will commission three artists working in any discipline to use border abolitionist frameworks to respond artistically to racist reporting of immigration and refugees. Deadline for interest: Monday 13 May, 9am.

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Give Over is looking to commission three emerging or established artists who will use border abolitionist frameworks to respond artistically to racist reporting of immigration and refugees.

The selected artists will be invited to produce creative responses to racist media reporting, and the relationship between racist government policy and the media. Each artist will be paid £2,000 to cover time, labour, and materials. Artists will have three months to develop their pitches, form their work, and collaborate with our curator to exhibit their piece. We hope to be ready to exhibit pieces in September 2024, but we can be flexible with timings.

We are looking for artists who are passionate about racial, economic, and social justice, abolitionist frameworks, with an ability to create and present art which confronts status quo narratives. This project is based in Sheffield, and we encourage local artists of colour to get in touch, particularly artists whose work ties together art and activism, resistance and protest. We are open to any artistic medium, such as but not limited to, paintings, posters, film, poetry, or sculpture. The commissioned pieces can be written, audio, or visual.

The successful artist will work with our curator to develop their ideas into a robust response to racist reporting.We want this to be an open, collaborative and communicative process. You’ll also work alongside a small team working to disseminate border abolition as a more equitable tool for journalists to use when reporting on border violence.

While the project and framework uses theories of border abolition, the focus of these commissioned pieces involves a response to journalism, immigration and racist reporting. We hope to challenge racist and white supremacist narratives about immigration in the UK, which is propagated by the inherent racism in mainstream reporting and media. The pieces could be informed by personal experiences, wider political themes, current affairs, inspired by racist newspapers or headlines, or look at borders and racist reporting away from state lines.

With recent racist media reporting on Palestine, and the continued apartheid and violence inflicted on the Palestinian people by Israel, we would like one of the commissioned pieces to relate specifically to Palestine and racist reporting pertaining to Palestine. This could be in reference to racist headlines, protest art, or poetry. We welcome varying ideas, mediums, pitches, or artist styles.

We recognise that curation and arts-organising can be inherently hierarchical and extractivist. It is our intention to try and work away from these more traditional, problematic frameworks, towards co-curation and activist practice. Part of this is utilising art as an abolitionist tool. We recognise the emotional labour inherent in this work. We have wellbeing and peer support structures in place at Opus, which we continually aim to improve.

What are we looking for?

  • Experience in producing artwork for commissions.

  • Emerging or experienced artist.

  • Track record of producing artwork that engages public audiences.

  • From Sheffield or based in Sheffield/South Yorkshire

  • Awareness and understanding of abolitionist politics, as well as wider social, economic and political issues around border abolition in particular.

  • Commitment to social justice and anti-racist principles.

  • Understanding the principle of ‘meeting people where they are’ and overcoming barriers to participation.

  • Excellent communication skills.

  • Understanding of the intersecting challenges faced by refugees and the ‘hostile environment’.

  • Understanding of the complex entanglement of systemic problems which impacts this work, for example climate change and colonialism.

Some examples of organisations who produce socially engaged art, include Black Lodge Press, Just Seeds who are based in America, or Shado Mag who are a community of writers, artists and activists, whose magazine platforms different artists, and views art as activism.

What do we mean by abolition?

Abolition is a movement to dismantle forms of state control, as well as being a tool or strategy that connects various struggles by providing a lens through which to examine how state control manifests in a multitude of ways.

Abolition is to re-humanise, and looks to remake or re-configure society through revolutionary and liberatory means. Border violence manifests in many ways: security and control, detention, deportation and surveillance. This directly results from the government, imperialism and capitalism. These systems, and border violence are enforced by workplaces, the media, schools, hospitals, and most institutions that exist in our society. Western imperialism has propagated, and intentionally created a world in which brown and Black people are murdered. This is wholly evident in Palestine, with western imperial influences, border control, and the creation of territorial lines, which has led to contested territory.

We want to emphasise that border abolition can be transformative, re-humanising and imaginative. We want to work to contribute to alternative approaches and visions that better capture the violence of borders through journalism. Abolition helps us comprehend the role of surveillance and punishment in state power. We want to emphasise that our understanding of abolition is imaginative, compassionate and creative. It is a tool, framework, goal and strategy. Abolition is inherently tied to the anti-colonial and anti-capitalist struggle, hence the imperative nature of linking wider abolitionist work to the occupation in Palestine.

What is Give Over?

Give Over is a project that uses border abolition as a way to reframe media reporting of refugees and immigration more broadly. Give Over uses varying formats to disseminate border abolition, and to apply abolitionist frameworks when examining racist and white supremacist narratives in journalism. Give Over exists to encourage journalists to move away from colonial and Western ways of knowing, documenting and being. Give Over’s understanding of border abolition is liberatory, and revolutionary; this is about remaking and reconfiguring, rather than reforming archaic and racist systems.

Give Over seeks to demonstrate the racism inherent in mainstream reporting of immigration, and to contribute to alternative approaches and visions that better capture the violence of borders via local journalism.We use workshops, archival work, and re-visioned journalism to challenge white supremacist and racist attitudes to movement. We want to push people from a point of "refugees welcome" to a point of understanding the violence required in order to maintain borders. We want to creatively demonstrate the fundamental principles of behind border abolition to organisations and the public.

This project has a particular focus on challenging racist, dehumanising narratives about immigration in the UK. We use theories and practices of abolition to explore how local media, including our publishing platform Now Then Magazine, can strategically initiate conversations with a focus on narrative change. This change can in turn be used to challenge racist and white supremacist narratives about immigration in the UK. Give Over seeks to demonstrate the racism inherent in mainstream reporting of immigration, and to contribute to alternative approaches and visions that better capture the violence of borders via journalism.

Give Over have produced and commissioned several articles for Now Then Magazine. We’ve also hosted a panel discussion on conditional solidarity for Palestinian journalists which can be viewed here.

To apply

Please email us a copy of your CV, and personal statement outlining why you are interested and should be selected for this work (maximum 2 pages) by 9am on Monday 13th May 2024 (Note: deadline extended from 7th May). If you have any general questions or queries, do not hesitate to email.

In recognition of the inaccessibility of a lot of jobs and education, we will guarantee an interview to any disabled candidate who meets the minimum criteria for the job. Please mention this in your personal statement if this applies to you.

Diversity & Equal Opportunities

We particularly encourage applications from groups that are under-represented. This includes but is not limited to people of global majority descent (i.e. people of African, Asian, Indigenous, Latin American, Middle Eastern/Arab, Polynesian/Pacific Islander, or Mixed-Race heritage), disabled people, those who identify as LGBTQI+ and individuals from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

About Opus

Opus is a not-for-profit social enterprise based in Sheffield, established in 2008. Our projects include Now Then Magazine, Festival of Debate, Opus Distribution and UBI Lab Network.

Opus works to contribute upstream solutions to complex system problems. We do this through strategic partnerships, engaging arts and culture, research, identifying leverage points, and co-creation. We incubate and deploy services, projects, platforms, decentralised networks and movements proportionate to the challenges ahead.

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