Democracy Now

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"Democracy in America: The National Campaign" sounds more like the title of an action movie than a blockbuster public art initiative, but the Creative Time-produced project promises to be a heavy-hitter. The title for this prominent series of multifarious happenings, art projects, performances, and more takes its name from a novel written by a young Alexis de Tocqueville after his first tour of the US, in which he searched for an answer to the question of why the concept of representative republican democracy had been so successful in America. The importance of this question endures, especially now, and it is central to curator Nato Thompson's undertaking, which is a serious evaluation of the state of participatory politics in this country. On September 21st, The Democracy in America Convergence Center at Park Avenue Armory will open, the exhibition portion of the campaign. Containing over 40 artists and filling three very large floors in Manhattan's Park Avenue Armory Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the show includes newly-commissioned work, seminal tactical media projects, and several live speeches and performances, all of which succeed in demonstrating the important role that spectacle can play in representing the fantasies and needs of the republic. - Marisa Olson

Image: Rachel Mason, Kissing President Bush, 2004