Democracy in America began in the winter of 2003 when Annie Dorsen invited about thirty artists to her apartment to discuss creating a performance using Alexis de Tocqueville's classic work of political theory as a starting-place. She proposed a performance that was open to whomever wished to participate, and that would find its form through an open-ended period of research and discussion.
Democracy in America is a process that happens in phases. In Part I, the consumers were the creators. The market opened on November 26, 2007 and the public was invited to imagine and purchase any and all elements of what-will-be-the-performance, primarily through a website constructed specifically for this project: www.buydemocracy.com. Anything that can be on a stage was available for sale: participants could select or submit text, personal anecdotes, stories and jokes, physical or non-verbal actions, themes and concepts, and all elements of the design. One might've chosen to see a particular image or gesture performed -- a kiss, a dance, a cartwheel. Another may have chosen to buy a costume, a sound cue or a prop. Product placement and other advertising opportunities were made available to corporations, small businesses and groups. Sales closed on February 29, 2008.
The performance of Democracy in America (Part II) are comprised entirely of these purchases. Dorsen and her creative team take what's been bought and create the live art event to be presented at Performance Space 122. Annie Dorsen constructs and directs, and the piece is performed by three of NYC's most celebrated downtown artists: Okwui Okpokwasili, Philippa Kaye and Anthony Torn.