Experimental Party debuts at UI Thaw event
By Vanessa Miller

The Gazette

Sunday, April 14, 2002, 11:21:39 AM IOWA CITY -- The Experimental Party leaped into the political scene Saturday and will compete against the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Green Party -- not so much for government office but for a voice.

Randall Packer, secretary of the U.S. Department of Art and Technology, officially announced the new party at Thaw, the University of Iowa's annual media festival, which showcases film, video, digital art and DVD productions.

"During the last few months, we have been horrified at how our country has reacted in a time of testing," Packer said, adding he thinks the government has been blinded by patriotism. "Our artists have higher obligations. . . . Today, we announce a new artist-based political party."

The Washington, D.C., resident spoke to about 20 people at Shambaugh Auditorium in the university's Main Library. Packer
said he wanted to speak at the seventh annual Thaw festival because he wanted to reach young artists and inspect
experimental art in the Midwest.

Adam Burke, 32, a digital director of Thaw, said he was excited Packer chose to announce the new party at the media festival.
He is making the announcement here because Iowa is the first state to have caucuses, Burke said. "This is the first time ever
that Thaw has received federal support from the government." Packer said the new party will focus on understanding the role of the artist in society and will give them a voice on major political issues.

"Artists are not represented very well, people don't care what artists think," Packer said. "This party is about understanding
how the artist can participate in equal dialogue in the political process." The group representing artists will not be officially registered as a party because Packer said he doesn't want the distraction of competing for office. He said the party will tour the country in 2004 and will build its own alternative voting system on the Internet.

"Just imagine if we had a political party that wasn't trying to win an election," he said. "We can get votes and we can win, but
we're not trying to get into office, we're just trying to send a message."

Burke said Thaw, which ran from April 4-13, screened the work of about 67 artists. He said that about 200 attended the event, which showcased about 12 hours of work.

All local content copyright © 2002 by The Gazette Company, Cedar Rapids, Iowa