CAFKA.14

It Should Always Be This Way

08. Steve Lambert (New York), Public Forum; The End; Today We Are Alive

Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St W, Kitchener, ON. Produced by CAFKA. Photo: Robert McNair
 
PUBLIC FORUM is a responsive, interactive art work bringing critical thought and movement to entrenched and fossilized ideas about our culture. The piece uses direct, community based democracy combined with game-show and carnival elements and a touch of absurdity.
 
PUBLIC FORUM creates a large scale backdrop for discussion of philosophical ideas and political myths in Kitchener. Imagine a mix of Family Feud, Let's Make a Deal, the front page of the newspaper, and the best college seminar class you ever took.
The 14ft wide lighted sculpture includes a theater marquee, a manual scoreboard, and hundreds of flashing lights. Passers by become players in the game, being interviewed by a host about their life and background, and then asked to respond to various philosophical topics. Rather than a simple quiz on facts, the game would tally public sentiment and score differently depending on the knowledge, experience, and "wildcard" factors presented by the player. Together all the elements make a well-moderated and fun conversation around statements like "Civilization is built on compromise," "Love is all you need," "Kitchener is the best it can be" or "True freedom is freedom from want." The dialogue around these ideas would unravel and create shifts in thinking through more complex understandings. And of course, jokes and laughter.

Topics can be suggested by participants and the statements will change frequently.
 
 
In partnership with Pattison, CAFKA also presents a series of works on print and digital billboards:
 
Photo: Robert McNair
 
 
Today We Are ALIVE
 
 
The End 
Location: Conestoga Mall, 550 King St N, Waterloo, ON N2L 5W6 and Dundas Square, 1 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M5B 2R8. Curated by Sharon Switzer with Art in Transit.

"Movies and events that happen in Conestoga Mall and Dundas Square have endings. When we eat a meal there, that meal ends. Our visit to the square and mall begins and ends. Our lives begin and end. But the advertising doesn't end. The video commercials in Conestoga Mall and Dundas Square are on a continuous loop throughout the day. One ad follows another and then they repeat. The ads show fantasies of youth, leisure, romance, and power that also, apparently, will never end if you continue to buy the product.

I can't end advertising in Conestoga Mall and Dundas Square permanently with this art project, but I can end it – in my own way – for about 8 seconds.

These clips are pulled from various classics, lesser-known, and educational films. Enjoy the break before we return to your regularly scheduled commercial programming." - Steve Lambert

 
Artist Biography

Steve Lambert’s father, a former Franciscan monk, and mother, an ex-Dominican nun, imbued the values of dedication, study, poverty, and service to others – qualities which prepared him for life as an artist.

Lambert made international news after the 2008 US election with The New York Times Special Edition,a replica of the “paper of record” announcing the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other good news. In the Summer of 2011 he began a national tour of Capitalism Works For Me! True/False – a 9 x 20ft sign allowing people to vote on whether capitalism worked for them . He has collaborated with groups from the Yes Men to the Graffiti Research Lab and Greenpeace. He is also the founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, the Anti-Advertising Agency, Add-Art (a Firefox add-on that replaces online advertising with art) and SelfControl (which blocks grownups from distracting websites so they can get work done).

Steve’s projects and art works have won awards from Prix Ars Electronica, Rhizome/The New Museum, the Creative Work Fund, Adbusters Media Foundation, the California Arts Council, and others. Lambert’s work has been shown everywhere from museums to protest marches nationally and internationally, featured in over fourteen books, four documentary films, and is in the collections of The Sheldon Museum, the Progressive Insurance Company, and The Library of Congress. Lambert has discussed his work live on NPR, the BBC, and CNN, and been reported on internationally in outlets including Associated Press, the New York Times, the Guardian, Harper’s Magazine, The Believer, Good, Dwell, ARTnews, Punk Planet, and Newsweek.

He was a Senior Fellow at New York’s Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology from 2006-2010, developed and led workshops for Creative Capital Foundation, co-directs the Center for Artistic Activism, and is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Purchase. Steve is a perpetual autodidact with (if it matters) advanced degrees from an reputable art school and respected state university. He dropped out of high school in 1993.

Steve Lambert's project has been supported in part by Pattison.