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"More democracy is possible"


Over the past months, our partner organisation Mehr Demokratie has organised citizens' councils on the topic of democracy all over Germany. On 15 November 2019, the Day for Democracy, they will present the results of this nation-wide citizens' assembly, accompanied by a spectacular art performance in front of the Reichstag in Berlin. John Quigley, the action artist who is planning the aerial artwork, explains why he chose to work together with the Citizens' Assembly for Democracy and what drew him to the topic.

This article originally appeared on

Why are you coming to Berlin this November?

My work involves creating large-scale messages on landscapes to activate collaborative art for the common good on important issues. When Claudine (Nierth, Spokesperson of the Board) and Roman (Huber, Managing Director of the Board) from Mehr Demokratie began discussing the Citizens' Assembly project with me I was inspired by the vision of Berlin as the perfect iconic place from where to send a visual message about strengthening democracy. With its potent political history as well as its position as a global leader in the art world, Berlin provides a powerful canvas during this critical time. Democracy is currently under threat worldwide with the rise of far-right, fascist ideologies and movements. Fortunately, we need to remind ourselves and the world that we are willing to stand up for democracy. Germany is a leader in the direct democracy movement. I see the opportunity to work with Mehr Demokratie's Citizens' Assemblies to send an empowering message that strengthens the belief that democracy is possible and is gaining momentum.

What are you trying to convey with your aerial art sculptures - and particularly with this one?

There are two goals for every aerial art sculpture. One is to unite a community to send a message about an issue that is important to them. The second is to express the idea that 'everyone matters' and 'everyone's life is a work of art'. The aerial art sculptures are a way to remind us that we're all connected as humans. There literally is no way to create this kind of image without the participation of each individual. It is a perfect medium to express the idea of democracy that everyone has a voice. In this case people will express that voice through their presence and their body. A primary goal of these sculptures is to inspire people to activate their creativity. For most people, if they were not the best singers, dancers, musicians, artists, etceterae, at an early age they decide, either consciously or unconsciously, that they just aren't creative. These events challenge that idea and seek to provide an experience where the participants reawaken to their own intrinsic creative energy. I believe that our greatest untapped natural resource as human beings is our collective creativity. These events can begin the process of unleashing that creativity. The artistic nature of the events allow a broader range of people to participate. Many people of all ages, who would not attend a march or protest, are drawn to join in this type of creation. Participation in an aerial art sculpture can serve as a starting point for a new chapter of life both creatively and in being politically and socially active. 

Do you have any advice for people who would like to join in?

Be prepared to have fun and feel inspired that many others share your desire for a fair, open, and just democracy. Please consider this an opportunity to expand your identity by co-creating a giant form and message that can only be seen from a bird's-eye view. See how you feel being a part of something so much larger than yourself. Liberate yourself from your smart phones and computers and join your community in this unified expression.

Why did you decide to join Mehr Demokratie to do this?

I've been impressed with the work Roman and Claudine have been doing with Mehr Demokratie. They are visionaries who recognize that democracy is a daily work in progress. It requires constant diligence and attention so that it thrives and does not become corrupted. Each of us has a responsibility to play our part in our society. When all voices are heard, in one way or another, our families, our communities, our world just works better. Mehr Demokratie is the leading Direct Democracy organization in the world. There is much to be learned from their work by groups in other countries including the United States where democracy is facing large threats from our current administration. I want to contribute my creative process to raise the visibility of Mehr Demokratie's great work. We need this kind of robust democracy strengthening process in every country.

Can you give us a hint, what the artwork will look like?

The artwork is still in development with my collaborator Jessica Klampe and the Mehr Demokratie team. What I can tell you is that we are all striving for it to be beautiful, inspiring, and thought-provoking. You're invited to come join in the co-creation. The experience is beyond a singular visual. It's a living art form. Stay open. Let yourself be surprised!


More info can be found here.

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