SPEAK OUT/SPEAK ART - BROWN V. BOARD 50TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE - MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Speak Out/Speak Art

An audience-interactive performance event as part of the city-wide programming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic 1954 Brown v. Board case

Sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council, Speak Out/Speak Art hosted at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Audience members were color-coded in a range from 1-10/light-to-dark with skin color stickers on their conference packets.  Each color stood for a section of the auditorium incling down to stage with lightest #1 at the front, all the way back to #10.  Participants were given a "quiz" administered by "The Board" (costumed actors who were part of our artists team) which varied in quality from crisp and perfect to illegible and crappy.  Those in the front had new pens; toward the back, broken pencils.  "Hall monitors" patrolled the upper areas in the back of the auditorium, doling out squares of toilet paper and hall passes.  As expected, those in the front contentedly completed their exams, were treated to their gourmet boxed lunches, and sat happily munching away, blissfully unaware of what was transpiring behind them in the upper tiers.  Toward center to back, participants became increasingly agitated, and when they did complete their exams, their lunches contained a packet of ketchup ("It's a vegetable!"), a box of Juicy Juice ("10% real juice!"), and a piece of bread with mystery meat.  Once they realized what was going on, with each successive group to complete exams, the audience staged a mutiny and sent representatives sprinting to the front to hijack gourmet boxes from the racks behind The Board.  The resulting discussion was dynamic and instructive for all in attendance, an experiential performative exercise investigating access and agency in the realm of education.