Seats of Power
In Seats of Power, artist and activist Beth Grossman invited ten public officials in Brisbane, California to immortalize their derrieres in the name of art and civic engagement. Asked to create an art exhibit to honor the opening of a new civic center in Brisbane, Grossman wanted to use the installation to make people think about leadership and civic responsibility, and to humanize the other side of the podium. She took photographic impressions of their pant-seat bottoms from the perspective of the chairs of Brisbane’s Mayor, City Council, Police Commander, Fire Chief, Harbormaster, and other key public figures. These posterior photographs went on display, and were later converted into textiles and upholstered onto chair seats placed on exhibit at Brisbane City Hall.
Seats of Power used laughter to segue into a more serious discussion about the nature of political power and civic engagement. Visitors to the exhibit were invited to sit in a public “hot seat”, walking up a long red carpet to be seated in a throne-like chair. In the “hot seat”, they were asked to share their thoughts on how it feels to be an empowered citizen. Recorded public comments are to be incorporated into a film by documentary filmmaker David L. Brown.