The Liberty of Empire

January 7 – February 12, 2011

January 7, 2011: Opening Reception and Artist Talk
February 4, 2011: First Friday Reception

Read Robin Ashworth's written response to The Liberty of Empire HERE as part of 1708 Gallery's new online journal, The Warhol Project.

In 2010, the Texas Board of Education passed legislation to remove Thomas Jefferson from history textbooks. Soon after, the board voted to strike the word "democratic" from references to the U.S. government.

For his exhibition at 1708, Matthew Friday will be constructing an interactive site-specific installation that utilizes the cultural, environmental and economic theories of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, as means to investigate contemporary social relations. The Liberty of Empire takes the form of a provisional laboratory and the first stage of this project involves interviews with local citizens concerning their beliefs regarding what should be included in the archive of history. This information will be collected and fed into a specially designed java-script program that interprets the future and past tense as a set of fractal attractors/resistors and creates a set of vector diagrams. Friday will then create a large-scale, site-specific ink wash mural based upon Thomas Jefferson’s architectural plans for Monticello. Using a workstation that is part of the exhibit, the diagrams are printed onto sheets of velum and placed onto a corresponding section of the mural. During the course of the exhibition, drawings will slowly accumulate, obscuring the mural.

This project focuses on the co-evolution of a community, which is conceived of as an emergent public space that exists within and through its relations. To this end, visitors can continue to submit their thoughts regarding history via a website or on-location computer, adding to the growing archive of diagrams.

“Society often practices history as a way of domesticating time; I am interested in reactivating the past, with all of its ruptures, contrasts and absences as the site of an experimental community.” – Matthew Friday