Vote for Chicken Subpoena Art Show

Chicken And His Files

The Vote for Chicken Subpoena Art Show takes place this Thursday, October 9th at the Crucible Steel Gallery located at CELLspace in San Francisco, where Chicken John, who ran for major in last year’s election, plans to answer the subpoena from the SF Ethics Commission by gluing the documents to the wall in the form of an art show.

Here’s the announcement from Chicken John’s mailing list:

CELL Space October 9th, 7PM*** Vote for Chicken Subpoena art show with special guest: Gavin Newsome!!!!

So if I said it once I’ve now said it a thousand times: Politics divide people, art brings people together.

I never knew how true it was until I decided it would be interesting and funny if I ran for mayor of San Francisco, the City of Art and Innovation.

I’d make a great mayor. Sure I would.

About half the people unsubscribed from my list.

By the end of the run, more people had signed up and stuff… but some people were really enthusiastic. Some angry. Some embarrassed. But everyone had an opinion. Most people think I did it ‘wrong’. Everyone would have done it differently. So if my campaign was a performance art piece, that makes anyone with an opinion a critic. An art critic.

Suck on that for a minute…

There is a device called the Ethics Commission that oversees campains and monitors the finance and the idea (I guess) is to keep things equal for all candidates. They manage a city fund for campain endeavors that you know of as “matching funds”. Where if you raise a certain amount of money and show that you have some support they will match your funds so you can get your message across. All sounds perfectly reasonable to me….

Please come to The Crucible Steel Gallery located in CELL Space, 2050 Bryant Street in SF, on Thursday night October 9th, 7 PM, as I satisfy the subpoena I received from the Ethics Commission. They wish to scrutinize the paperwork of the campaign committee when I ran for mayor to make sure I filled out all the forms right and didn’t spend any campaign money on blow and hookers. Like you get a receipt from the blow and hooker store, jeeeze…

I’ll glue the paperwork to the walls of the gallery and I’m inviting you, the general public, and the Ethics Commission to peruse the paperwork that I will display. The subpoena asks for me to “surrender” all files and papers and accounting. Why only surrender it to them? Why not let everyone see it? Sounds like a fair political practice to me…

At the show, I will do a short presentation of how I’m protected by the 1st amendment because I ran for second place in a pre-determined election. I will also show you how I almost won. Yup. The Rank Choice Voting thing is actually so flawed that things been just a little different… just a small % different… it’s complicated. Come to the show, I’ll explain it.

11,000 people voted for me. Not bad, really. You’d only need 7,000 or so to slam dunk a supervisor seat. Or 3,500 first place votes, 4,000 second place votes… it’s all kinda complicated…

Please join us for a look at the sheer volume of paper that is generated for a campain. The will be complimentary Hor’dearves and libations for your pleasure and a special appearance from our beloved Mayor Gavin Newsome who will speak about how as Governor of California he will be a great inspiration to artists who will join together against him as he paves over every square foot of our beautiful state with luxury condos as the billionaires kick out the millionaires. Or something.

My artist statement is as follows:

My work deals with contemporary and post-contemporary political paranoia and mistrust through an ancient medium, that of the standard political rhetorical broadside, dedicated though, not to the standard genre of communicating to one’s fellow citizens in the polis through appeals to their reason, love for community, or even sense of play and creativity, but rather to what the medium of political communication is reduced (or elevated? this question cannot be evaded, but is rather met head on through the slapping of form on wall) to in the post-electronic world, communication not across a plane of equals with a common language of gesture and sound, but rather communication between Subject and a shadowy world of hegemonic power that attempts to define art not as a matter of artist and audience but of, in senses both real and metaphorical, master and slave. In this work the meaning of “form” is played with in its duality of shape, medium, or contour and its alternate and paradoxical meaning of a piece of paper with information filled in, submitted to the requirements of the civic ego rather than personal limerence. The piece reconfigures the use of Number in ways meant to make the audience question the hegemony of Mathematics itself; within the ambit of my work, a work whose true scope and space encompasses not just the gallery walls but rather the memories, experiences, cash flow, and enthusiasm of everyone whose desire to see me experiment with political form led them to make the choice to write me a check or hand me their own form of inkjet on paper art, the federal reserve note (a thing of totemic power whose overall shaping of my work is a constant presence-through-absence), an act which, as the work demonstrates, takes them, and me, irrevocably from a realm of (imagined, possible phony) “choice” and “freedom” and into a locked condition of thrall, indeed, to the commissioners–people who their relationship with, rather than being organic or arising from felt need, is rather imposed on them by a system that makes the informational facts of their being property not of them or those they choose to share it with, but rather something that can (and is) taken by force in a curious game where Facts and Information become in essence keys to a very real Jail. (The concept of entrapment also overhangs the work and shapes the viewer’s perception.) We see then Math and Number losing their customary and enforced sense of solidity and entrapment and becomes instead a medium of slippery uncertainty, where the difference between 99.99 and 100 is not simply a single integer but rather a multiplicative function that shifts and expands relentlessly through time with each passing day, eventually becoming not just Number but a crushing Reality that can in fact destroy homes, lives, and futures. In this work a sense of place is reinforced through the rhythmic and repetitive use of street addresses, raising interesting questions about the meaning of “where”.” The overwhelming sense of exile in the current sociopolitical condition is grappled with as questions of “residency” and “last known address” are raised, lowered, parried, and recontextualized, in a situation where “home” again becomes something not purely emotional or domestic but rather the raw material of a Panoptionesque vigorous searching gaze into every aspect of what could once have been considered a realm of privacy and choice; a realm reconfigured, both in the Ethics Commission’s “reality” and the “reality” the artist has crafted in the gallery, across multiple dimensions and platforms: Materials used include wheatpaste, inkjet-on-paper, will, and imagination. And disgust.

UPDATE: Here are some photos and video of Vote for Chicken Subpoena Art Show.

photo by Scott Beale

Scott Beale
Scott Beale

Scott Beale is the founder of Laughing Squid and is based in New York City. When not running the blog, Scott can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.