Equal Opportunity to be a Dictator
“Equal Opportunity to be a Dictator” is a social practice artwork where people intuit each other's voice directly. It’s an invitation for people to ventriloquise each-other. Anyone can offer others something to say (feed them a line), and anyone can also speak what others offer them to say (say the line they are fed) as conversation. Everyone can say the lines they are given in their own way. People have agency in saying their lines, they can edit, refuse, embody however they wish.
The work asks the audience to converse through an echo chamber, to share power and walk in another person's shoes. We fight for our voice our whole lives, we share and fight for the voices of others also. This piece approaches identity politics from another angle and not something just to contemplate – everyone is invited to (in the flesh) role reverse, walk in someone else’s shoes, talk with other mouths, try to empathize with each-other, listen to body language deeply, give room to offer things that usually cannot be said but maybe could be said in this context, given powers to be careful with, feel for each-other and feed each-other the words intuitively, the scary act of carving out selves within halls of mirrors, live face to face and heart to heart.
Option 1 - LARGE CLIFFS: The audience could enter huge cliffs stair access or Caves with cheelchair access seen above in images Art Gallery of WA. They can interact over live microphones and speakers installed in the cliffs/caves.
Option 2 - NECKLACES: Audiences can wear a "tell" piece, an item of jewellery, as seen above images with black tormaline necklaces. This necklace lets others know they are open to speaking in "Equal Dictator" mode. They can converse in this mode with anyone around wearing the "tell" piece of jewelry.
Option 3 - ONLINE: The Audience can be online, given induction video and introduced to the work over zoom. Participation happens within zoom rooms.
The space is flexible depending on which presentation option is chosen.
Option 1 - LARGE CLIFFS: Large space to accommodate 15msq sculpture/scaffold structure.
Option 2 - NECKLACES: Must be located in extremely social hub during events where people will naturally be lingering around.
Option 3 - ONLINE: Online through Zoom, event.
Installation and De-installation
Option 1 - LARGE CLIFFS: MADE ON SITE: The piece is carved in foam onsite, sealed and coated.
SHIPPED FROM WA: the cliff facade from show at the Art Gallery of WA is in shipping container in WA. It's made entirely out of flexible black polyurethane and can be attached to a simple scaffold 2msquare platform with stairs, 2 metres high. Needs a team of 6 to install, de-install.
Option 2 - NECKLACES: The necklaces on a wall with induction video.
Option 3 - ONLINE: Zoom session, bookings required.
All options will require attendants to assist people with interactivity.
- No expectation for everyone to participate. Designed to work for everyone - passive and active participants.
- Passive audiences (who do not want to actively participate) may eavesdrop on live conversations.
- People who do participate can meet new people and connect with people they already know, in a different way.
- Challenges the audience to be considerate of others in sharing language this way and to finding boundaries.
- Challenges the audience to have a deeper curiosity in the mystery of others, playful the characterizations of self and others within this way of communicating.
- Pushes audience out of comfort zone.
- Can logistically be difficult initially for people. This can be aided with a very clear induction video and examples before beginning and good attendants help people become comfortable.
- May feel psychologically laborious to participate for too long, so short events may work well, or when online, short interactions with people, switching people often.
Accommodations for Covid
- Online versions of the work have worked well at APAM this year.