To celebrate the 60 th 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.
Who Governs? 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
Power Portraits is a photo series celebrating a range of local leaders and their families. Inspired by the history of commissions to court painters who captured periods of cultural and historical significance, Andersen’s images will recognize the resilience of New Haven residents in a period of cascading difficulties. As residents question representation in the visual landscape of cities like New Haven, the Power Portraits series updates and extends the record of Who Governs? Bek Andersen is a photographer based in New Haven.