In July of 2016, Our Common Ground: Vote for the Good Life was exhibited in Cleveland and Philadelphia during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. This non-partisan, participatory installation aimed to engage convention goers and our nation's citizens in respectful dialogue and shared artistic experience during the tumultuous U.S. presidential election of 2016. The installation later toured to a Philadelphia gallery.
Painted obelisks called “Voter Poles” collided and marked the gallery walls with colorful hues of intent within an illusory political arena. Each Voter Pole represented an element of the good life, referencing Aristotle's definition of politics over 2,000 years ago. Participants voted on which element they most valued, and inscribed how they believed change would happen. Votes were color coded by political affiliation. The results demonstrated similar values in pursuit of the good life, regardless of party affiliation.
Participants also joined the “Dialogue Den,” a space reserved for facilitated exchange between those of opposing viewpoints. It was discovered that within the political arena, shouting won attention, yet listening won contemplation. The quiet and beautiful Dialogue Den provided a necessary counterpoint to the convention frenzy, which was defined more by police and media presence than by politicians or delegates.
To see the sights and sounds of the conventions follow this link
More footage from our project partner, Soulfetti.