Polygonal Address System 2012
Steve Badgett and Deborah Stratman
Curated by Steve Rowell
Suspension of Disbelief, DC Arts Commission, 5x5 public art initiative
PA System was a monumental floating pentagonal platform anchored in the Washington Channel, a federal waterway leading to the Capitol’s Tidal Basin. The structure appeared to hover and slowly rotated, propelled by solar-powered electric motors. It was equipped with an on-board sound system that played a program of contemporary and historic audio recordings highlighting instances of public address in the District. The voices were citizen oratories on civil rights, women’s rights, labor struggles and military intervention projected from speakers embedded in the craft’s sidewalls. Audio sources were compiled from the Library of Congress, National Archives and Pacifica Archives, amongst others. The project’s seed of inspiration was Abbie Hoffman's attempt to levitate the United States Pentagon, a prank that became a historic anti-war protest. PA system addressed a monolithic national institution whose policies are often at odds with its citizen’s interests and needs as a floating symbol of Platonic resonance and resistance.