In early November, Creative Time Reports announced its first open call, asking artists around the world to submit pieces addressing issues related to migration. The request went out days after the US election, when the subject of immigration emerged as one of the key reasons President Obama clinched his re-election.
Helping to heave Obama’s victory over the edge were grassroots campaigners, many of whom were emboldened by his recent legislation granting reprieves to young illegal immigrants who must meet certain conditions. Although a handful of those campaigners going door to door could not cast a ballot themselves, they zeroed in on those who could. Among their main targets was the Hispanic community, who now account for 10 % of the electorate.
These activists’ triumphant efforts helped bestow 71% of the Hispanic vote to Obama, while Romney, who had proposed, according to the Economist, “making life so miserable for illegal immigrants that they would ‘self-deport,’” received a paltry 27%. A week after the election, Obama announced plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill soon after his January inauguration.
In December, we will explore the ways in which culture can help shape not just national, but also international conversations on topics like immigration, refugees, the status of the undocumented and human trafficking. Our dispatches will illuminate the plight of the Sahrawi people in Western Sahara, who have been fighting for self-determination for 38 years. From Pakistan, we will see how Burmese migrants living in illegal squatter settlements spend a Sunday afternoon. And from the border of Somalia and Kenya, we partner with Film Aid and venture inside the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, to see how a young musician has transformed his mud-brick home into a sound studio, recording his neighbor’s songs and poetry.
The many captivating and thought-provoking submissions we received for our open call confirmed what we already know: artists around the world are capable of inspiring and encouraging a more engaged and informed public.
We plan on issuing our open calls quarterly. If we haven’t heard from you this time, we hope to be hearing from you soon.
—Marisa Mazria Katz