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Quick—what’s the dirtiest word you can think of? The one that makes people the most uncomfortable? The one you wouldn’t dare say at a party for fear you’ll spend the rest of the evening alone in a corner with everyone around you doing their best to pretend you’re not there?
Artist Steve Lambert, who was featured here on Hyperallergic last year, is trying to fund a public art project he hopes will foster dialogue about something we all have to live with, but which most of us don’t have much of an opportunity to talk about in a meaningful or constructive way:
Starting a conversation about Capitalism is like walking up to a stranger and asking, “Can I talk to you about Jesus?” The word “capitalism” is a red flag. And for good reason – pretty soon some dude is talking your ear off about “The System, man.” Ugh.
At the same time, capitalism is discussed every day using euphemisms like “jobs,” “job creation,” “the business climate,” and discussing whatever “crisis” is deemed relevant; a housing crisis, financial crisis, social security crisis, tax crisis, or fill-in-the blank crisis. But the whole is rarely a topic of frank discussion – much less alternatives or meaningful reform.
To fix the situation, Lambert is proposing a mobile polling station, built around one of his signature custom-built signs, that will make appearances in cities across the United States and which will ask visitors to answer true or false to the simple statement “Capitalism works for me!”. An electronic counter will keep tally of the respective votes and the voting mechanism will be programmed with a 30 second delay between votes to allow participants the chance to discuss their points of view and ideas for reform.
Lambert, whose previous projects include a fake edition of the New York Times announcing the end of the Iraqi War and a Firefox extension that replaces web ads with artwork, is hoping to raise $9500 to make the project happen. He’s also offering all kinds of nifty pledge incentives including original artwork, personal appearances, and even a phone call from his mom and dad (who look like very nice people) thanking you for your support. If that’s not the very definition of a grass-roots project, we don’t know what is. (And admit it: you’d love to see what FoxNews wil have to say about this, wouldn’t you?)