Call for Contributions

What happens when we turn our attention to waiting? What does the condition of waiting reveal about us, our world, and the natural environment that sustains it? This issue of Shifter will begin with a series of seven workshops during fall 2020 and spring 2021, resulting in the publication of Shifter 25: Waiting in Fall 2021. Participants will receive a small honorarium.

A businessperson waits for a delayed subway in Manhattan. A wrongly convicted prisoner waits for justice. A refugee waits for the judge to hear their asylum case. A nation waits for the promised boon of economic development. The world waits for a vaccine. Nature waits for its exploitation to end. Waiting is usually what we do between things. It is a point between two destinations, an empty and anxious time to fill up with distractions. But if we look more closely, we quickly see that waiting is an activity in itself, bristling with energy, uncertainty, and inequality.

"World’s Highest Standard of Living," 1937, Margaret Bourke-White

We invite participants to reflect on five different registers of waiting and their interrelations through text or visual forms:

1) Enforced waiting: incarceration, detention, and the inequality of delays.
Who is forced to wait, and by whom? And who is spared waiting by their privilege?
2) Chronic waiting: the endless delays imposed on entire social groups and nations.
Uneven development; the ever-deferred promise of growth; chronic unemployment; women’s labor; bureaucratic delay.
3) Natural waiting: on the one hand, the waiting for help after natural disasters—in the immediate aftermath and beyond; on the other, how species and forms of life beyond the human wait for us, for each other, on their own terms.
4) Existential waiting: waiting not as what happens between activities, but activities as what happens to distract us from our essential vocation as waiters.
Waiting for life; waiting for death.
5) Desirable waiting: the joy of anticipation; the importance of patience; developing a capacity for appreciating the in-between.

Essays, experimental writing and artwork are a few formats that your project may take. Between September 2020 and March 2021 we will host six forty-minute, online “workshops.” Two contributors will each give 10 minute presentations of their ongoing work, have a brief discussion with each other and a moderated Q&A with the audience. Following this, each contributor can develop their work further for our print publication. Each contributor will receive a modest honorarium of $250 for their participation in this project.

The events and publication that encompass Shifter 25: Waiting are hosted by MIT List Visual Arts Center and Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati in conjunction with solo exhibitions by Sreshta Rit Premnath in the spring and fall of 2021.

Proposal Due: July 15th, 2020
100-200 word proposal outlining the topic and format of your proposed contribution emailed to shiftermail@gmail.com

August 1st, 2020
Notification to all applicants

September 2020 – April 2021

May 1st, 2021
First draft of contribution for publication due

September 2021
Publication launch