Artist-run organization plans to mobilize public art to encourage political participation in the U.S.
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
The artist-run American nonprofit For Freedoms has announced the launch of “The 50 State Initiative,” a nonpartisan political and artistic campaign that will utilize public art to spark political engagement. As such, the project will span the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. The campaign’s focal point is the planned installation of political billboards in all 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. These billboards will not endorse any specific politicians, but instead will promote different messages that local artists wish to convey. “We are hoping to bring art to the center of public life in the lead-up to the midterms, which is where we think art should belong,” Eric Gottesman, one of the founders of For Freedoms, told the New York Times.
One of the planned projects is a billboard by artist Zoë Buckman which will encourage women to vote. Another, by artist Trevor Paglen, will address the ethics of mass surveillance and data collection. These billboards in every state will be supplemented with free public programming, such as exhibitions and artist-led town hall meetings. The Fralin Museum of Art in Charlottesville, Virginia is planning to hold public dialogues and art workshops with the hopes of instilling awareness and conversation about the city’s legacy of slavery and discrimination.
For Freedoms has emphasized that the project is non-partisan and non-binary. They stated, “Our goal is not to support a political party or push a partisan agenda, but to empower everyone across the United States to feel welcome in civic conversations.”