The Great Seal, 2016-2018
Interactive installation/performance. Teleprompters, microphone, touch screen, speakers, 12x12 feet custom printed rug, HD video, HD monitors, 20 minute experience. Video documentation (3 min)
The Great Seal
The Great Seal, (2016-2018)
The Great Seal is an immersive installation that investigates the intersection between art, propaganda, religion, and politics. The piece invites viewers to step on an imagined political arena and take on the role of the keynote speakers at the annual Washington D.C. Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). CUFI galvanizes millions of American Evangelical conservatives who consider Jewish rule over the land of Israel/Palestine a precondition for Christ’s second coming. In this scenario the Jewish State will play a key role in the imminent battle of the End Times. By employing the visual and ritualistic conventions of a presidential teleprompter and a karaoke ‘sing-along’, participants-turned-demagogues are invited to perform speeches derived from those of American and Israeli politicians and clergymen who spoke at the CUFI summits. While the form is playful and immersive, the format of the work foregrounds the disturbing seductiveness of ethno-national populism.
Throughout the interactive performance, visitors stand on a rug emblazoned with the design for the original Great Seal of the United States, first proposed by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in 1776, and subsequently rejected by Congress. Franklin and Jefferson’s Great Seal reimagines the biblical story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt with America framed as the ‘New Zion’. The settler-colonial myths linking the United States and Israel are thus embodied in the seal.
More information about accompanied programs and activations of the work can be found here at Eyebesm’s website.
The Great Seal is the first chapter in a trilogy which critically examines the myth of America’s notion of the “Judeo-Christian Tradition” and its global and local implications.