Alexis Bhagat: Lecture on Democracy as Word and Brand

Performance Wed 21 Jan 2009 6.30PM-8.30PM Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design
2 West 13th Street
Free admission
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Lecture on Democracy as Word and Brand is a new performance work by sound artist Alexis Bhagat, commissioned by Parsons, presented as part of the exhibition OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding, and integrated into the actual exhibition layout.

The lecture activates Liam Gillick's platform with two different channels of pre-recorded audio. From four small speakers embedded into the fora—the four circular benches included in Gillick's installation—recordings play that Bhagat made during a charrette he conducted with New School students in the fall. These recordings are juxtaposed with the "Voice of Authority," emanating from an overhead loudspeaker and delivering recorded proclamations on democracy by Edward Bernays, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and others. Illustrating the divergent connotations of the word "democracy," the Voice of Authority abuses the term, while the voices from the fora attempt to use it. In the midst of this controversy is the artist who stands at lectern and reads live a lecture on the history of the term "democracy"—delivered to the audience via little portable radio transmitters that will be distributed at the performance. Considering democracy as an example of a "brand," the lecture urges the abandonment of this hollow term.

Alexis Bhagat (born USA, 1974) is a sound artist and writer from New York. His work is dedicated to dismantling authorship and authority through the cultivation of new forms of radically poly-vocal sound, the transmission of promiscuous conversation, and obsessive, never-ending correspondence. He is an editor of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, and curator and co-editor (with Lize Mogel) of the book and traveling exhibition An Atlas of Radical Cartography. He is also co-curator (with Lauren Rosati) of ((Audience)), a traveling exhibition of sound art works to premiere in Delhi in 2009 and travel to select cinemas around the world.

Generated in collaboration with Jesal Kapadia and students of her "Witness and Intervention: Media" class at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. Produced in collaboration with free103point9.

This new performance work was commissioned by Parsons for OURS and is presented as part of the Vera List Center's program cycle on "Branding Democracy." It is also presented in conjunction with the exhibition, OURS: Democracy in the Age of Branding, on view from October 15, 2008 to February 1, 2009.