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We the People: Nari Ward to re-create monumental work in New York

Visitors can donate their own shoelaces during the live installation this month at the New-York Historical Society

by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  7 February 2017
The New York-based artist Nari Ward had not intended to make a third version of his monumental work, We the People, an installation of shoelaces spelling out the first line of the preamble to the United States Constitution, which he first made in 2011. But he and his assistants will set up a workshop in the lobby of the New-York Historical Society from 20-24 February to create We the People (N-YHS Version) in front of museum visitors.

Nari Ward, We the People (2011) (Image: Will Brown, Speed Art Museum)
This is “not meant to be entertainment”, the artist explains, but a participatory experience; visitors can trade in their own shoelaces to be used in the piece—which requires around 1,000 pairs—for new ones. And after the live installation, the work will be permanently displayed at the museum lobby, to be officially unveiled on 25 February.

The presentation is part of the New-York Historical Society’s Presidency Project, a programme of events and exhibitions held in January and February 2017 to mark the presidential inauguration and explore the notion of citizenship. “We all have to take part, and by taking part we build the language, and I think that very basic process within the piece is mirroring what we have to do moving forward,” Ward says.
 

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