This piece focuses on the impact of the War on Terror – how censorship, surveillance, torture and the invasion of Iraq – has transformed American society.
The State of Things
On Labor Day, September 1, 2008, artist collaborators ligorano/reese installed a temporary ice sculpture spelling out the word Democracy on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol during the RNC for The UnConvention.
In response to the start of the Republican National Convention, the artist duo ligorano/reese (Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese), in conjunction with Northern Lights.mn, presented The State of Things, weighing almost 2,000 pounds and measuring 36″ tall and 180″ wide.
Over the course of the day, the word Democracy disappeared, a testimonial to the impact eight years of extreme judicial, legislative, and executive actions have had on American democratic institutions – from the landmark Supreme Court decision Bush v. Gore in 2000 to presidential signing statements to illegal FISA surveillance. As Ligorano said,
The State of Things dramatizes the perils facing Democracy after eight years of the Bush Administration and the disastrous impact his government has had on American democratic values and institutions. This piece focuses on the impact of the War on Terror – how censorship, surveillance, torture and the invasion of Iraq – has transformed American society. The sculpture is emblematic of our times. Our democracy is wasting away at an imperceptible rate. What stands out is that for the amount of time most people view art 1 minute or less the sculpture won’t seem to change, yet by days end, it will be gone – disappeared, like so much of what is happening to the values and institutions that make America a great country.
ligorano/reese also presented The State of Things in Denver in conjunction with the Museum of Contemporary Art during the Democratic National Convention. According to Ligorano,
We chose to present the sculpture at both conventions to highlight the fact that preserving our democratic values is a bipartisan issue. We want to engage people from all sides of the political spectrum.
Close Encounters: Facing the Future
Video and photo documentation from both conventions form the basis for a large-scale media installation as part of “Close Encounters: Facing the Future” American University Museum at the Katzen Center, September 13 – October 26, 2008.
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese have collaborated as ligorano/reese since the early 80’s. Their work examines contemporary trends in society and the media through the manipulation of images and sound from print, television, the Internet, and radio. Their installations, limited edition multiples and artists books have been exhibited at Jim Kempner Fine Art, Kent Gallery, the Beall Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, MIT MediaLab, Museum of Arts & Design, the Neuberger Museum of Art, and Lincoln Center. They have received fellowships and funding from the Jerome Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA, the NEA, Art Matters and been artists in residence at Montalvo, the MacDowell Colony and Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
Brushfire, A Provisions Public Art Program
This project is part of BrushFire, a Provisions Public Art program with support from CrossCurrents Foundation. Provisions Learning Project pioneers the exploration of creative social change in exhibitions and public programs. Its online publications and research library have become a trusted source for information on breakthrough social change topics from around the world.
The UnConvention is a non-partisan collaboration of local and national organizations and citizens, initiated by Northern Lights, exploring the creative intersection of participatory media and participatory democracy. It exists as a counterpoint to the highly scripted and predetermined nature of the contemporary presidential nomination process and conventions.