(In)security – Call for Artist Researchers

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We are delighted to invite applications from artists to work alongside academics from Humanities, Engineering and Social Sciences to develop projects that critically examine counter-terrorism security measures in Birmingham and experiment with alternative notions of safety.

Find out more at the (In)security – Critical Explorations event at STEAMhouse, 6–8pm, Wednesday 22 January, 2020. Info and booking is HERE


Terrorist violence is ubiquitous, we hear and read about it daily in the media and so are encouraged to think about it constantly, some of us have been directly affected and in urban environments we are all potential targets. How are we to respond to this ‘substantial’[1] threat?

Often the solution offered is more surveillance, more concrete bollards and barriers, more counter terrorism measures. Like many cities Birmingham has responded to the terrorist threat with a range of urban counter-terrorism architectures and preventive security measures. Some of these are highly visible, for example steel and concrete barriers in the city centre, others less so, for example community engagement that seeks to ‘prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’.

However, research has shown that security features designed to make people feel secure can have a paradoxical effect: rather than making people feel safer, they may arouse feelings of fear and terror.

Artist Researchers

Art can enable us to expand the field of imagination in ways that go beyond the forms of narrating, planning, and playing that characterise catastrophe scenarios, exercises, and the academic literature on this subject. As Marsha Meskimmon notes, it allows ‘us to encounter difference, imagine change that has yet to come, and make possible the new’ by ‘materialising concepts and meanings beyond the limits of a narrow individualism’.[2]

We are looking for three artist researchers to work alongside academics to develop ideas for individual or collaborative projects dealing with the theme.

There is no fixed format, and artists will join an interdisciplinary team of researchers. Artists, writers and performers working in any area including sculpture, performance, drawing, installation, writing, photography, poetry, moving image and sound are invited to apply.

Artists will work towards a public presentation in September 2020. The form this takes will be identified in conversation with selected practitioners.

This project is funded by a grant from The University of Birmingham’s Institute of Global Innovation and Institute of Advance Studies.

What’s on offer:

  • £1,750 artists fee
  • £500 material costs to develop artworks as research.
  • Curatorial support from Eastside Projects.
  • The opportunity to discuss and develop projects with academic lead Dr Katharina Karcher (University of Birmingham) and other academics

Key dates:

  • (In)security – Critical Explorations event at STEAMhouse, 6–8pm, Wednesday 22 January, 2020. Find out more HERE
  • Application Deadline: Tuesday 25 February 2020, 8pm
  • Interviews: March 2020
  • Project Starts: April 2020
  • Public Presentation: September 2020

For full application details please download this PDF


[1]According to MI5, the current national threat level is seen as “SUBSTANTIAL”, meaning that a terrorist attack is seen as likely.

[2] Meskimmon, Marsha (2010) Contemporary Art and the Cosmopolitan Imagination, London and New York: Routledge, 8.



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