Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman Deborah Stratman

Polygonal Address System
March 20 – April 29, 2012
Washington, DC
in collaboration with Steven Badgett


Abbie Hoffman

Project Description
A monumental, floating pentagonal platform (approximately 30 feet per side), anchored in the Washington Channel, a federal waterway leading to the Capitol’s Tidal Basin. The structure slowly rotates, propelled by electric motors, and is equipped with an on-board sound system that plays a program of contemporary and historic audio recordings highlighting instances of public address in the District. Oratories on civil rights, women’s rights, labor struggles and military intervention project from speakers embedded in the sidewall, as the piece hovers above the water in rotation. Audio sources were compiled from the Library of Congress, National Archives and Pacifica Archives amongst others.

This symbolic craft might be considered a People's Pentagon, where free speech occupies the physical model of a monolithic national institution whose policies are often at odds with its citizen’s interests and needs. PA System also reflects an interest in the mystical strength attributed to geometrical forms. The floating island becomes simple iconic manifestation of Platonic resonance.

The project was originally inspired by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who aimed, together with 75,000 demonstrators, to levitate the Pentagon in order to exorcise its ‘evil spirits’ and thereby end the Vietnam War. It was additionally inspired by General Smedley Butler’s speeches at the 1932 Bonus Army encampments in Anacostia, a movement that led to the passing of the GI bill.

PA System is entirely solar-powered. In DC, it operated on a timer, spinning continuously and playing speeches daily from 10am-7pm. The piece is comprised of five modular sections, each floating on five 55gal poly drums. It was approachable via watercraft, and visible and audible from the neighboring shoreline.

Curated by Steve Rowell as part of Suspension of Disbelief, a curatorial project commissioned by the DC Arts Commission for their 2012 5x5 public art initiative.

Polygonal Address System - DC from Steve Rowell on Vimeo.



All audio can be found at the Suspension of Disbelief website.

VOICES:
RALPH ABERNATHY
BELLA ABZUG
MAYA ANGELOU
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE
LEE BRIGHTMAN
QUANNAH PARKER BRIGHMAN
H RAP BROWN
GENERAL SMEDLEY BUTLER
LIZ CARPENTER
ROBERT CAVELLI
CESAR CHAVEZ
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
ANGELA DAVIS
EUGENE DEBS
JOSEPH DUFFY
FREDERICK DOUGLASS
RONNIE DUGGER
LADD EVERITT
BETTY FRIEDAN
SAMUEL GOMPERS
DICK GREGORY
REVEREND GRAYLAN HAGLER
SARA HAILE-MARIAM
FANNIE LOU HAMER
CHRIS HEDGES
CLIFTON HILL
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
JULIUS HOBSON
ABBIE HOFFMAN
BARBARA JORDON
CORETTA SCOTT KING
WALTER LARA
BRIAN LEE
JOHN LEWIS
JOHN S LEWIS
HUEY P LONG
COURTNEY LOVE
RUSSELL MEANS
STUART MEECHUM
TUOLUMNE MEWUK
RALPH NADER
REVEREND DARLENE NIPPER
CARL OGLESBY
A PHILIP RANDOLPH
BAYARD RUSTIN
CINDY SHEEHAN
DAMU SMITH
BRUCE SOLLOWAY
RABBI SCOTT SPERLING
DR BENJAMIN SPOCK
BOOKER T WASHINGTON
CORNELL WEST
ROY WILKINS
CHRIS YAZZIE
WHITNEY M YOUNG
MALCOM X

Reviews - Click on the link for the full review.
Polygonal Address (PA) System: A floating installation by Deborah Stratman and Steve Badgett at 600 Water St. SW uses vintage audio recordings. Stratman is a Chicago-based artist and filmmaker. Her work has been featured at the Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Sundance. Badgett, a frequent collaborator with Stratman, is a sculptor and installation artist.
- Jacqueline Trescott The Washington Post, 2012

With Polygonal Address (PA) System, Chicago-based artists Deborah Stratman and Steven Badgett produced an homage to activist Abbie Hoffman who, during the Vietnam War, marched on Washington intending to “levitate the pentagon to exorcise the evil spirits” using psychic powers. For their part, Stratman and Badgett built a solar-powered, rotating mini-pentagon that hovers above the waters behind the Titanic Memorial, broadcasting a range of historical sound recordings and political addresses.
- Yasha Wallin Interview Magazine, 2012

In the Southwest Waterfront area, visitors can discover Deborah Stratman & Steven Badgett’s Polygonal Address System, a spinning platform floating about 50 yards out on the Potomac River. As I approached, I was struck by the raucous sounds of political protests. Was there a nearby demonstration? Not today. It soon became apparent that the platform had loudspeakers fixed to the side of it. As the pentagonal structure rotated in the water, the speakers roared with the sounds of historic public addresses and protests, including speeches by public figures from Malcolm X to Ralph Nader.The Polygonal Address System was one of the more politically-charged elements of the 5×5 project. Steve Rowell, curator of the installation, described his perspective of the system, pointing out that viewers seemed to have varying reactions to the political speeches. He felt that some people enjoyed the speeches, while others appeared turned off by them, as if the art revealed something about each person’s political views. Rowell noted that some of these speeches were ‘complicating the argument of protests, public activism, democracy, and intolerance amongst so many Americans.’
- Jack Krajewski BlackBook, 2012

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