The Citizens Laboratory is Amanda Eicher, Valerie Imus, and Jerome Waag. As the Citizens Laboratory, we seek collaboration with cultural and public institutions where art and artists can act as catalysts for urban and civic engagement.
On April 1, 2011, the Oakland Standard presented April Ful's Night, a communal meal centered around Egypt's national dish, Ful, and a social experience inspired by Egypt's revolution and the populist uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This participatory project, organized by The Citizens Laboratory with the collaboration of the Zambaleta World Music and Dance School, provided an opportunity for Middle East communities to gather with others in a large and intimate museum setting and address the emotional impact and relevance of the global changes sparked by the spring of 2011.
Throughout the fall and winter of 2013, The Citizens Laboratory brought together scientists studying animals and experts on human behavior as well as artist facilitators in How To Move A Mountain, a monthly gathering around food, research, dialogue, and group behaviors. Each month, an artist would organize the score for the audience to interact with new research from animal behavior specialists and human ethnographers, sociologists, and behaviorists. What followed were a series of evenings at Southern Exposure resulting in performance, drawing, food, and discussion around how groups activate to do work collectively.
In Working with the Police/Working with the Polis, The Citizens Laboratory investigated the role of the police in society. Two absences provided the starting points: Polis is Eyes, an elusive film in Stan Brakhage's Pittsburgh Trilogy in which the filmmaker 'rides along' in a Pittsburgh police car on patrol; and a poster, issued in the 1970s in Berkeley, with the image of a typical hippie male, with the appropriated text of a police recruitment advertisement under the word WANTED. Working with the Police/Working with the Polis was a series of workshops in which citizens interfaced with the police in patrol car ride-arounds, one-on-one observations in the gallery, dialogues via Skype, and community organizing workshops around effective policing. The product of this project is a distant sighting: a re-making of the Brakhage film in collaboration with community members on patrol, documenting the world as it unfolds from the window of their own community police cars.