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Seats of Power

Brisbane officials put their keisters on the line for civic participation.

Artist and activist Beth Grossman has invited the Brisbane Mayor, City Council, Police Commander, Fire Chief and Harbormaster, among others, to immortalize their derrieres as “Seats of Power,” all in the name of Art.

Inspired to welcome Brisbane citizens to the new City Hall, Grossman also wanted to encourage citizen involvement in local politics. In keeping with her artistic practice of creating site-specific work, she wondered what the view might be like from the City Hall conference room chairs’ perspective.

“The chairs have heard it all,” Grossman remarks, ”It is in this very conference room that we speak our minds, fight for what we are passionate about, work together and laugh together.”

While capturing the impression of participants’ pants sitting on their chairs, Grossman came to appreciate Brisbane officials from a perspective different from that of the Council Chambers or City Hall offices. Some of the comments heard were, “What we don’t do for our citizens!” and “This is one view I don’t often get.”

Laughter has been a segue into more serious discussions about the nature of political power. The posterior photo images were later converted into textiles and upholstered onto chair seats, which are on exhibit at the Brisbane City Hall through May 2009.

Visitors were invited to sit in a “Seat of Power” in Brisbane City Hall and met the artist at an interactive art opening. Here they envisioned themselves as empowered citizens. Recorded public comments will be featured as a film by documentary filmmaker David L. Brown.

Seats of Power
woven jacquard on found chair seats
16” x 21”
© Beth Grossman 2009


Seats of Power
on exhibit at Brisbane City Hall


Seat of Power Throne at Brisbane City Hall
Filming Seats of Power participants
Brisbane citizen, Joe Sulley, on the Seat of Power
Mayor Sepi Richardson talking with participant, Brandon Powell

Citizens responded to the following questions:
How does it feel to sit in a seat of power in City Hall?
How are you powerful in your life?
What would you like to do with your power?

Seats of Power art exhibit at Brisbane City Hall