#OCCUPY: Meet The Chair People Collective


THE CHAIR PEOPLE COLLECTIVE spontaneously rallied around a conviction that has come to uniquely characterize the Occupy movement: namely, that if no one person is its spokesperson, everyone could be its spokesperson.

> What is your involvement with the OCCUPY movement?

The Chair People Collective was founded by four residents of Providence, RI and supporters of the Occupy movement. We began collaborating in November 2011 on the construction of a series of chairs for Burnside Park, the site of Occupy Providence. As persons with different backgrounds and different relations to art, we spontaneously rallied around a conviction that had come to uniquely characterize the Occupy movement: namely, that if no one person is its spokesperson, everyone could be its spokesperson.

The chair-building workshops, in which all who passed were invited to participate, opened out a space in the park for creative activity and for building solidarity. In this shared period of play, chairmakers worked on chairs, while also rebuilding the commons.

> Describe how the OCCUPY movement has influenced your creative process.

The materials we use are found, recycled, and repurposed. Some pieces are painted; others are embellished with colored tape, and woven fibers. The first model, entitled the “protest chair”, was designed with weather resistant materials — milk crates, electric tape, plastic sheeting and wood. Initially intended for use on the site of Occupy Providence, this seat was designed to be easily broken down, moved, and re-installed, for use in meetings, poetry readings, site-specific gatherings, sit-ins, performative protests. It could also in turn be de-constructed and repurposed as platform, basket, or protective covering for possessions as needed by those living in the park. The chairs’ rustic impermanence was and is also the point. They are like building blocks; we sit on them awhile in order to stand up taller.

> What message do you hope to convey to the 99% with your artwork?

The chair is a powerful symbol that takes us back to the fundaments of community, democracy, hospitality. In these chairs is a collaborative wish to creatively reclaim places in which to think together and from which to speak out. The time it takes to make a chair together is also time spent reflecting on what allows humans to live and work together. Having a seat means having a home, a place to think from, to go forth into the world from. The chairs are a collective reimagining of the “basic units” of society, the hope for a more thoughtful society that would be attentive to and representative of the will and aspirations of all people.

Pull up a chair! By occupying one of these chairs, you are invited to join in this collective reimagining. Profits from any sales will go towards the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. Please visit our Facebook page (99 chairs) and let us know if you would like to sign up for a chairmaking workshop, or if you have ideas for particular venues, collaborations, or collective actions that could help to make this a long-term community project.

THE CHAIR PEOPLE COLLECTIVE is part of the #OCCUPY group exhibit at Yellow Peril Gallery, featuring artwork inspired by the OCCUPY movement. The exhibit will run from Thursday, 15 March to Sunday, 15 April 2012. Opening night reception will be on Thursday, 15 March, from 5PM – 9PM during Gallery Night in Providence, RI.

> RSVP to #OCCUPY on Facebook