A few weeks ago, the Nasher Museum student interns were told that we would be participating in one of the pieces in Area 919 by taking shifts as “Precinct Officer of the Interior” in Stacey L. Kirby’s interactive piece, Power of the Ballot. This piece, one of Kirby’s many “performative interactions,” invites the viewer to cast his or her vote in an “election” about voting obstacles, giving a ballot to the hand of an anonymous person inside the ballot box. We were told that it would be our role to be that anonymous person.
After I crawled into the box for the first time last Friday, I sat and waited for the bell ring, indicating that a voter was ready to hand me a ballot. A few minutes later, the bell rang. I was strangely excited for the exchange that was about to take place. When the transaction finished, I felt like I had played a part in something bigger than just taking a ballot, stamping the receipt, and returning it to the participant. I had played a role in facilitating an important conversation about voting and its obstacles.
After experiencing this exchange from both sides, I feel that it heavily depends on trust. When I was inside the ballot box, I heard someone speak about voting with a friend, yet he decided not to cast a ballot. When I filled out my own ballot, I felt a similar hesitation about sharing information that I don’t think or speak about regularly. However, participating in this “election” gave me a similar feeling to participating in a real election, giving me the chance to express my opinion.
Visitors are invited to experience Power of the Ballot. Complete Schedule.