The Great Seal, 2016-2017

The Great Seal 2016-2018

Interactive installation / performance
Video documentation (3 min)

The Great Seal, an immersive installation that investigates the intersection between art, propaganda, religion, and politics. The piece invites viewers to step onto a fictitious stage at the annual Washington D.C. Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and assume the role of keynote speaker.

By using a presidential teleprompter and a karaoke ‘sing-along’ machine, participants are invited to perform speeches compiled from those delivered at past CUFI summits.

Throughout the interactive performance, the visitors will 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 myths linking the United States and Israel as two settler colonial projects are thus embodied in the seal.

The Great Seal, Activation at Eyebeam 2018

The Great Seal, activated by artist/performer Reverend Billy Talen

The Great Seal  had its US premiere on November 8 at Eyebeam with an activation of the work, followed by a conversation led by experts in the areas of political activism, performance, religion, media, and neuroscience. Their voices and expertise provided a valuable perspective on the ideological, psychological, historical and political mechanisms interwoven in this project. Panelists include research scientist Suzanne Dikker, media theorist Kareem Estefan, religious studies scholar Suzanne Schneider, and artist and performer Reverend Billy Talen.