The priest speaks from a pulpit.
The president of the nation speaks from a lectern.
The professor speaks from a podium.
The specialist speaks from a rostrum.
The members of the jury deliberate from a presidium.
Such props convey a seamless choreography of authority, key dispositifs aimed at instituting authority. As objects, they can be defined as markers that shape an interior scenography of power. If authority is to be legitimate, it needs a complex web of apparatuses that create everyday legitimation. As a social relationship, authority must be continuously reinstituted through governments, educational and spiritual institutions or police structures. The more this process is seen as natural, the more effective authority is.
Unlike these choreographies of authority, art practice is not a privileged place for the actualization of power. Even when works with a political character are showcased, their potential for change is neutralized by the fact that they are situated in museums or galleries. Because after all, is there a greater proof of power than tolerating dissent? But politics is not only made in such places of authority, but also in everyday life, at the family table, riding public transportation, or in places of leisure. So we asked ourselves: how can we appropriate these instruments of power to put them to use in our everyday life?
PUBLIC SPEAKING works with the accumulated tension between the idea of art for art’s sake and its potential to produce social change.
Drawing on our experiences as presidential candidates of Romania, high school rhetoric champions, TV stars, real estate speculators, punk cholos, and pop philosophers, we went on to develop a set of tools for the appropriation and subversion of public expression.
PUBLIC SPEAKING is a project by Xandra Popescu and Larisa Crunțeanu and realized as Act VI of the District series Curatorial Practices. Fields and Techniques.