photocracy: defining democracy through stories & art

This project is made possible by grants from the Arts Initiative at the University of Michigan
and the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester.

collecting stories & art

this is what democracy means to me

Photocracy invites students, faculty, staff, and alum from the U-M campus community to share what democracy means to them by submitting an image along with a short written or audio- or video-recorded explanation of the personal meaning of that image. Submissions will be showcased online in an ever-growing collage of images and videos, where viewers can view a diverse and wide-ranging collection of submission in a gallery of images to see and hear more about the unique perspectives of our campus community. In this way, Photocracy becomes a community platform whereby each of us can speak and each of us can listen as we prepare for the election.

During the submission process, you will have the opportunity to select your sharing preferences so that even those that may want to remain anonymous, or not have their voice used, will be able to be heard through shortened naming conventions (Monica C., Robert M.), or student actors stepping in to make audio recordings as “readers theatre” (see details and apply for these positions HERE).

retelling stories as art

The Photocracy: Call for Artists and Designers asks faculty and graduate student artists and designers, as individuals or teams, to propose a commissioned piece that will be developed using the collected images, text, and recordings as source material and inspiration for an interactive work that will be initially displayed or previewed in January 2021. Proposals may be for any genre of creative work in any format – installation, exhibition, performance, composition, etc. – and must include an interactive community element that can be experienced in connection with the exhibited or presented piece. Whatever the outcome of the November 2020 election, our community will benefit from interacting with the pre-election inspired work and reflecting on their evolving ideas of democracy and the American experiment through that interaction. The presented work can be in a final form when exhibited or presented in January, may continue to be exhibited or performed throughout the Winter 2021 semester, or may continue its creative development through April 2021. Note: Proposals that include interdisciplinary collaborations, teams, or strategies; use of technology; or UX/UI considerations are encouraged. 

A $7,500 honorarium will be awarded to the selected artist(s), designer(s), or team(s), and an additional $2,500 will be available for materials and other expenses. ArtsEngine will work with the selected artist(s), designer(s), or team(s) to secure exhibition or performance space, or any additional identified needs.

Proposals must be received by 11:59pm deadline on Sunday, December 6, 2020. The successful applicant(s) will be notified by December 18, 2020.

View Full Call for Artists & Designers

Photocracy: Call For Artists and Designers
Defining Democracy through Stories and Art

Photocracy is a project supported by ArtsEngine, the U-M Arts Initiative,
and the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester

Photocracy: Defining Democracy thru Stories and Art is an initiative designed to capture the voices and stories of the UM community as they respond to the prompt “this is what democracy means to me” during the run-up to the November 2020 election. ArtsEngine will collect images, text, and recordings of students, faculty, and staff, and will then showcase their responses in an online format. 

The Photocracy: Call for Art asks faculty and graduate student artists and designers, as individuals or teams, to propose a commissioned piece that will be developed using the collected images, text, and recordings as source material and inspiration for an interactive work that will be initially displayed or previewed in January 2021 in connection with the national inauguration date. Proposals may be for any genre of creative work in any format – installation, exhibition, performance, composition, etc. – and must include an interactive community element that can be experienced in connection with the exhibited or presented piece. Whatever the outcome of the November 2020 election, our community will benefit from interacting with the pre-election inspired work and reflecting on their evolving ideas of democracy and the American experiment through that interaction. The presented work can be in a final form when exhibited or presented in January, may continue to be exhibited or performed throughout the Winter 2021 semester, or may continue its creative development through April 2021. Any project continuation past the end of the Winter 2021 semester will be planned in conjunction with ArtsEngine staff. 

A $7,500 honorarium will be awarded to the selected artist, designer, or team, and an additional $2,500 will be available for materials and other expenses. ArtsEngine will work with the selected artist, designer, or team to secure exhibition or performance space, or any additional identified needs.

Proposals must be received by 11:59pm deadline on Sunday, December 5, 2020. The successful applicant or applicants will be notified by December 18, 2020. The work is expected to be previewed starting January 2021 and displayed/performed in Spring 2021.  

Applications will be reviewed and final selection made by a panel of faculty, staff, and students from the five North Campus schools and colleges (Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design; A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning; School of Music, Theatre & Dance; College of Engineering; and School of Information).

Successful applications will include:

  • A general proposal of the work (theme, genre, media) and how that work expects to use and incorporate the collected images, texts, audio, and video components. Note: We expect any creative work may change or evolve over the development period, so this proposal is to be directional rather than proscriptive.
  • A brief explanation of the artist or designer’s experience in the proposed genre or media.
  • A timeline of work over the 10-week development period.
  • A budget outline that focuses primarily on needed materials and supplies, performer or studio assistance fees, equipment purchase or rental, etc.
  • Links to portfolio or other examples of previous or relevant work.
  • A list of collaborators or others who will participate in the development or presentation of the piece (if known). 

Note: Proposals that include interdisciplinary collaborations, teams, or strategies; use of technology; or UX/UI considerations are encouraged.

If you have any questions around the Photocracy: Call for Art, or would like to schedule a pre-application consultation, please contact artsengine@umich.edu.