USSSA and Engaging the Public During the Presidential Election

Recently, I was invited to document and join a group of artists who are planning an exhibition with a series of multi-city art rallies, which are anchored by a collective engagement with America's ongoing Presidential Election process. The USSSA project is curated by m. ryan noble a.k.a. imagici. noble’s previous efforts culminated in a collective effort called FLAG STOPDedicated to the ideals of democracy and self-expression, the USSSA project aims to finding a meeting space for these two endeavors, which are the primary agendas for all candidates involved.  

The collective's approach to art and its role in society was largely shaped by performance artists such as Linda Montano, Sharon Hayes, and Marina Abramović.  

For instance, Marina’s 2010 retrospective at the MoMA The Artist is Present could be understood as the act of stripping the to its core elements -- perception, (self) identification, and, hopefully, a subsequent understanding. To really look at a subject is to really try to understand it, and this has largely informed noble’s approach to art and its role in society.

Where does art fit in?  Just think about how Romney's weakness tends to be his lack of sensitivity about the working-class conditions in the United States or even Santorum's misguided and overtly misogynist advice about "friends" not letting friends "use pink balls." Video played a large role in how that information became public knowledge. In short, thank goodness that there are politically engaged individuals and groups out there that don't let these missteps go unnoticed. We can all agree that these are not the appropriate messages for the nation to obey.  

Much of this commentary is made possible by art and media -- YouTube, the news, and even performance art!  It's important to note that all of the aforementioned resources are highly collaborative mediums, which rely greatly upon its audience.  And this is where USSSA aims to be more far-reaching in carrying its message that there is much more to be spoken by the (potentially voting) public. San Francisco was the site of the first meeting, and Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago are under consideration for future rallies. The meetings are free and open to the public, too! 

As we move forward in the election process, and learn more about the current state of democracy, these artists will convene in an effort to create an additional layer -- a discussion in tandem with what’s been made public. In essence, there is plenty of room to document and express more private concerns that seep through political debates, publicity, and legislation. noble suggests that, more often than not, the common reaction to the often-frustratingly generalized language used during the presidential election season can lead many to feel a sense of invisibility or hopelessness. As noble states, it can make many of us perceive "social reality as an illness—pervasive, contagious and stigmatized."  

As mentioned, in order to successfully engage with a subject, perception must be followed by the act of identifying with it (in some form) and understanding it on our own terms. With that said, the artists aim to provide this dialogue and invite the public to make this happen.  The project includes several visual and performance artists, including Wafaa Bilal, Barbara Horiuchi, Sarah Sense, Christy Speakman, and Dread Scott.  For a complete list of participating artists, see the USSSA: Phase 1 fundraiser page.

Dread Scott.  Imagine a World Without America.  Screen print on canvas. 

If you'd like to support this project, please donate.  Each phase of this project depends upon active participation in the spirit of democracy!
Enhanced by Zemanta