Main Gallery

Who Governs?

Curated by: Frank Mitchell

October 30—December 12, 2020

Installation view of Who Governs? Photo: Jessica Smolinski.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Robert Dahl’s groundbreaking book,  Who Governs? Democracy & Power in an American City, Artspace invited artists, designers, and creators to imagine public projects that reference city management, governance, and the ways we live today. In this momentous election season work created by humanists and creative thinkers is essential for understanding the complexities of political leadership and the responsibilities of citizenship. Dahl based his iconic study of New Haven’s political structures on an act of radical scholarship for the 1950s. He sought to observe deeply, closely, and with disciplinary respect the city’s resident, his New Haven neighbors and fellow citizens. The exhibition  Who Governs? Art & Democracy in this American City takes its inspiration from Dahl’s mid 20th-century research to inform the presentation of work by Emily Larned, Bek Andersen, Bayeté Ross Smith, and Bev Richey. Through varied media that includes sculpture, photography, typography,  performance installation, and recycled agricultural waste these artists insist on the immediacy of  Who Governs? as a statement for this moment.

Commissioned Projects

Police Others as You would have Others Police You

Emily Larned

This archives, graphics, and publication installation draws upon the history of community policing innovations in 1990s New Haven. K.D. Codish, a women’s health and community arts activist, led the city’s Division of Police Education and Training under Police Chief Nick Pastore. Codish’s Police Academy supported recruits in conducting their own research and creating collaborative presentations with local artists. The program introduced theories on anti-discrimination policy, alternative dispute resolution, community mediation, violence against women, mental illness, and homelessness. This non-traditional approach resonated locally and nationally with an increasingly diverse police force and interest in the program from other reformers.  To document the progress Codish produced a short publication  The New Haven Police Academy: Putting One Sacred Cow Out to Pasture. Larned and Codish will document the history behind the publication and reprint the piece for a contemporary audience.  Emily Larned is a designer and educator based in Bridgeport.

Power Portraits

Bek Andersen
Inkjet Prints, Wheat Paste, Oriented Strand Board

Power Portraits is a photo series celebrating a range of local leaders. Inspired by the history of activism in New Haven, as told by Mercy Quaye in the “Revolution On Trial” podcast series, Andersen draws on the tradition of commissions to capture periods of cultural and historical significance. These Power Portraits recognize the resilience of New Haven activists in a period of cascading difficulties, and are an action of representation to update and extend the record of Who Governs?

The Power Portraits are made in Andersen’s pop up studio in Artspace New Haven’s Project Room, and will continue through the duration of the exhibition.

Exhibition Press