Monday December 18, 2017 2:10:51 PM St. Paul, MN

Conventions on Ice

This is what Lynn Sures wrote us in an email about seeing the videos -

“Watching time-lapse video of the melting in Denver,  how amazing.  First thing that chilled me was when the M fell, leaving DEOCRACY (I was thinking Deo as God and thoughts fell to Palin’s and Bush’s views) then as other letters fell and people interacted with it I went back to thinking about Democracy, then was again arrested as it finally read ORA which is “Now” in Italian and felt like a hopeful sign.  Weird having a conversation with an ice word.

All the videos are so compelling for those of us who weren’t there.  I knew about Amy Goodman being arrested but watching the video of the house arrest still made me want to scream.”

Close Encounters - Facing the Future

From September 13th to October 26, we’re in a show called Close Encounters:
Facing the Future
at the American University Museum in the Katzen Art Center in Washington, DC. Provisions Library, which commissioned us to do The State of Things in the convention cities, organized this exhibit.

Don Russell and Niels van Tomme are the curators; CrossCurrents Foundation
provided major funding. The exhibit includes artists like Leon Golub, Adrian Piper
and Nancy Spero; Daniel Hayman, Wayne Gonzalez, and Taryn Simon. What we appreciate
about Russell’s and van Tomme’s approach to this exhibit is that they involved artists from the ground up by commissioning several public works to address actual issues. Some of these works were at the conventions (like ours) and some in other places around the country. All focused on key policies and used different media: hand drawn banners, video, internet, performance and public intervention.

Since we only had a week to organize our work from Denver and St Paul, we worked like
crazy on our return to New York, editing the time lapse videos you see here and a set of photo prints spelling out the word “Democracy” from both locations. The arrangement filled an entire
wall and the word was “bookended” by two flat screens showing the time lapse videos.

Photo mural of The State of Things

Photo mural of The State of Things

St Paul monitor showing meltdown

Opening of Close Encounters at the Katzen Center

Riding the waves

Since St Paul, we’ve been in for quite a ride. The Obama and McCain campaigns are locked into a fight for the bitter end.

McCain is a politician waging a guerilla war against Obama. It’s almost as if - this is what he internalized from his years at the Hanoi Hilton. His choice of Palin to try to shift the field from the catharsis of the Democratic Convention. At a time, when American politics seemed to reach a new level of oratory, imagery, even pagentry - the Republicans played the cards of identity politics they know so well.

Everybody started to call McCain’s choice the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, but sports are the wrong analogy here. It was a wierd mirror - like the killer robot in Terminator2 that morphs into different bodies and forms - Palin and the attempt to cancel the debate is more akin to asymetrical warfare and much less to football, could this be an admission of how dire the McCain leadership feels?

Disaster Politics - There is nothing to fear, but fear itself…

Riffing off Naomi Klein’s book Disaster Capitalism - the conclusion of the conventions highlights the fact that we’ve entered a new era - the age of Disaster Politics.

Dissent is quashed because protests and protesters may harbor terrorists; when in fact police have infiltrated these same protest groups and share intelligence between police departments across the country - isn’t this what COINTELPRO was in the early seventies?

But somehow it’s different -

Journalists are arrested because they don’t follow orders to disperse; focusing instead on their jobs to report what’s happening on the streets. And the list goes on.

But the biggest evidence of Disaster Politics was McCain’s decision to cancel the first day of the Republican Convention, to visit Louisiana on the eve of Gustav’s arrival.

Just when you thought hope could be alive, the Republicans roll out Culture War v. 2.

The seeds of our destruction -

John Bolton by Teresa Anderson, 2005 11″ x 14″

4th place, Minnesota State Fair
30 percent painted category, Amateur division

Seeds used: black beans, crown vetch, hulled barley, millet,
poppy seeds, red beans, timothy, wild rice

see more crop art at

The story so far…

So, St Paul.

The ice sculptors always say, “Oh, with the heat, the sun, the humidity, it’ll take 8-10 hours…” Well, they’re almost never right - NYC: 26 hours; Denver: 22 hours.

As we were setting up in St Paul, a guy came by and said, “Six and a half hours.” He should know, he’s an amateur ice carver. Maurie Pearson, the ice sculptor we worked with said, “Seven and a quarter.” Nora and I were flabbergasted.

“What? Oh no, man, at least 20…” We stood around, took bets for beer; as we went over the wagers, we recapitulated and changed our bet to 10 to 12 hours. Maurie and the other guy weren’t buying it - “No way.” We were secretly hoping for 10 - still being wasted from Denver which took over 24 hours long and had us sleeping on a roof overlooking the museum during the night.

The news from St Paul is not good - with mass police arrests, hassling of journalists, use of pepper spray, tear gas; the throngs of people surrounding the statue in St Paul were clearly starving for Democracy.

They yearned so much for a sense of freedom that hundreds caressed and embraced “Democracy.”

They broke the letters down, stripping the ice from the base to quench the rasping parchness in their throats the authorities caused.

“Democracy” in St Paul couldn’t withstand the harsh climate - the heat, the Ramsey County Police.

In the short span of 4 and one half hours in this drastic political climate: at 3:25 PM, it was gone.

Let’s hope that by November - it returns.

Untitled from LigoranoReese on Vimeo.

Lobbyists for McCain from LigoranoReese on Vimeo.

Interview with bystander at The State of Things from LigoranoReese on Vimeo.

The view from St Paul

Welcome to St Paul

Here, at the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi - we don’t suppose that the Republicans suspect their convention opening tomorrow on Labor Day, to be the psychic maelstrom behind the class 5 hurricane heading for New Orleans.

Could it be that the amalgam of delegates, politicians and lobbyists are creating a political black hole to finally sink us along with the crescent city, finishing the work started by President Bush and Brownie Brown? The Republican candidates whizzing off to the mouth of the Mississippi are the epitome of disaster politics.

But, Labor Day, any other year, in the Twin Cities is a festive time - it marks the closing of the magnificent State Fair - the beginning of the school year, the fruits of the summer bounty, but this year, it is a bitter harvest of massive police crackdowns, armed agents entering the homes of innocent citizens, housing guest journalists, seizing equipment, computers, cameras… arresting independent journalists including Amy Goodman and two reporters from Democracy Now.