New party aims at blurring lines between politics, art

By John Kenyon
The Gazette

Thursday, April 11, 2002, 10:52:11 AM IOWA CITY -- The Experimental Party, a movement designed to give artists a voice in the political process, isn't necessarily a real political party, but it's not just a conceptual art undertaking either.

If it sounds like founder and artist Randall Packer isn't exactly sure what he has on his hands, well, that's the idea. "My intent is to blur the line between the politics and art," he said. "Once you become part of the system, you have to meet demands. We can participate in the dialogue without actually having to participate in the system."

Packer, an instructor at the Maryland Institute of Art, will be in Iowa City to participate in the University of Iowa's Thaw
Festival. While here, he will hold a press conference at noon Saturday at Shambaugh Auditorium to announce the formation of the Experimental Party.

Packer started the movement with a letter to President Bush, outlining the idea for a U.S. Department of Art and Technology. The reply was a form letter, but it got Packer thinking about what might have happened if Bush had agreed to his proposal. He and about 30 other people created their own Department of Art and Technology. From that sprung the idea of the Experimental Party.

"I think it presents a model for artists for how they can participate in the real world," he said.

"I have found that artists typically operate within a very insular world, the art world. But the kind of dialogue that takes place in the arts community has real value to it that isn't taken seriously by the political establishment."

He hopes the new party can field a candidate for the 2004 presidential election.

Packer, who calls himself the secretary of the department, will show his work "The Media Deconstruction Kit" during Thaw.

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