Karlsruhe Unesco City of Media Arts

Call for Artists: 'Visions of transformations to sustainability'

Call for Media Artists

Application deadline: Thursday, 15 July 2021, 12.00 (CET)

Download a PDF of this call for digital media artwork on "Visions of transformations to sustainability".  

The International Sustainability Transitions Conference (IST) will take place from 5 to 8 October 2021, hosted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI) in the UNESCO City of Media Arts Karlsruhe. The annual event of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), the largest international network for sustainability transitions research with around 4,000 members, is one of the most important meetings on this subject for researchers from various disciplines and explores the question of how a transition to sustainability can succeed through co-evolutionary changes and innovations in socio-technical systems.

In 2019, the city of Karlsruhe became the first and so far only German city to be included by UNESCO in the global UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Media Arts­. As a UNESCO City of Media Arts, Karlsruhe is ­committed to the ­United Nations ­Sustainable ­Development Goals­, ­in particular the role of creativity and culture in ­the construction of ­sustainable ­urban societies.

Sustainability concerns all facets of life and in addition to ecological, economic and technological aspects also touches on issues of social justice within a society. The transformation to a sustainable society is linked to fundamental changes in the way societal needs are met, for example in terms of mobility, culture, health, nutrition, or energy supply. Achieving comprehensive and global sustainability is an ongoing and interactive process that needs to be shaped by all parts of society.

Under the theme "Visions of transformations to sustainability", the Fraunhofer ISI, in cooperation with the UNESCO Office of the Cultural Department of the City of Karlsruhe, invites artists or groups of artists to submit project proposals for a media artwork. The aim is to create a digital media artwork that critically reflects on the following questions:

  • What does a truly sustainable future look like, and how do we get there?
  • Can we use our creative talents to renew our cities and societies and make them more sustainable? What role can or should technology play in this?
  • What influence does art have on sustainability and vice versa?
  • Through which alternative paths or ways can sustainability be mainstreamed into all parts of global societies?

The artwork will be presented in virtual form at the IST Conference on 7 October 2021. Subsequently, exhibitions are planned at various locations and events of the Fraunhofer ISI, as well as within the exhibition format Seasons of Media Arts, organized in Karlsruhe by UNESCO City of Media Arts.


Applications are open to professional media artists from Karlsruhe and the cities of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Applications are open to individuals and groups of artists.

Please note that the selected artist(s) will sign a contract with Fraunhofer ISI regarding future usage rights of the selected artwork. 

Requirements of the artwork

  • A digital media artwork is to be created.
  • The artwork must have a connection to the city of Karlsruhe.
  • The artwork must relate to the theme "Visions of transformations to sustainability" and address social, technological, economic, political, or individual aspects of societal transformations in the field of sustainability.
  • Sustainable methods should be used in the creation, production, and presentation of the work.

Fee I Production Cost Subsidy

The selected artist will receive a fee of EUR 9,999.00 (net) for the realisation of the artwork. Additionally, the artist may be granted a subsidy for production costs of up to EUR 5,000.00 (net).

How to apply

Applications must be submitted online. As this is an international project, only applications in English will be considered. 

Application is a two-step procedure. 

1. Please fill out and submit theapplication form. Necessary information includes:

  • Applicant's personal data and contact information
  • Artist(s') statement and biography
  • Short project description & project outline in reference to the call's theme "Visions of transformations to sustainability"

2. After submission of the application form, you will receive an email with a link to upload attachments. Necessary attachments include:

  • Artist(s') CV(s)
  • Details on the project concept and realisation 
  • Cost calculation for the realisation of the project
  • Information on the technical requirements for virtual as well as real-life presentation of the work
  • Images and/or video/audio files

The deadline for applications is Thursday, 15 July 2021, 12:00 (CET).

Selection procedure

The artist or team of artists will be selected from the submitted project proposals by a jury of experts. The selection committee is made up of representatives from the fields of art and culture, science and research.

The jury meeting is expected to take place at the end of July 2021. The jury's decision is legally binding and not contestable.

Important dates

15 July 2021, 12:00 (CET) - Application deadline

15 - 28 July 2021 - Evaluation of the submitted proposals

28 July - 9 August 2021 - Notification of selected artist(s)

9/10 August 2021 - Public announcement of the selected artist(s)

before 20 September 2021 - Recording (video) of interview with artist(s)

26 September 2021 - Handing in of the artwork

7 October 2021 - Premiere of the artwork: first presentation at IST 2021, with video of interview with artist


Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI

Petra Sandker
Tel: +49 721 6809-212

Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Karlsruhe I UNESCO City of Media Arts

Blanca Giménez
Tel: + 49 721 133-4003