[re]public spaces

15 04 2010

Merriam Webster defines a republic as “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them”. The caveat here, of course, is that the citizen bears little power, if any at all. The supposed power held by the citizen is legally bequeathed to the government in the process of voting, meaning that the opportunity to assume and assert power is fleeting and contingent at best.

Still, there is something unique about this definition. Contrary to thoughts regarding the innate hierarchy of systems of power that suggest it to run top-down, the definition challenges this fundamental assumption by presupposing the power of the citizen over and above the power of the institution. But there is another form of power that precedes the body of citizens and one that is nearly impenetrable to the influence of institutional forms of power only if and when it is understood as so. This power is consciousness.

The inspiration for [re]public spaces draws upon the struggle between one’s individual consciousness and the institution, such as the state or the corporate body, in an effort to define and take ownership of everyday public spaces and our activities within—this can also be described as the quotidian. The body of work seeks to look at the seemingly banal ways in which the individual citizen of a public environment engages with and responds to power. …Keep reading after the jump

Critical Reflection 4: the notion of Ideology

15 04 2010

What is democracy? Communists are said to have claimed that the Soviet dictatorship was the only true proletariat democracy, while Hitler and Mussolini are both said to have believed that their respective systems of governance were higher, more real forms of democracy (Shields, 1958: pp 29).

Democracy can be understood simply as a system of governance. Its roots lay in Plato’s Republic emerging from the Greek word demokratia – rule of the people (ibid). However, this definition is hardly exhaustive and as such, fails to capture its complexity when we consider that democracy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster (2010), “is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation”. The Oxford English Dictionary (2004) maintains this definition but adds that a “democracy is a state of society characterized by a formal equality of rights and privileges”. …Keep reading after the jump


15 04 2010