Mr Democracy explores trade, democracy and globalization. It responds to the fact that the UK is one of only three countries in the world without a written constitution. For Mr Democracy, the artist went to China to commission a written constitution for the UK. Both content and production were outsourced to China, and 1,000 specially manufactured plastic toys that speak the new constitution were imported into the UK. In respect of the UK’s long history of democratic generosity across the globe, perhaps it is now in a position to receive some political direction from overseas.
The project resulted in a large installation featuring the 1000 dolls, occasionally all speaking, and a three-channel video installation documenting the process of production.
Democracy Research and Development : Hu Chan, Li Fang Feng and Lu Yue Hua from the East China University of Politics and Law in Shanghai drafted the constitution. A brief was set and discussed and, after extensive research, the lawyers wrote a new constitution for the UK. The Chinese language version was then translated into English by a colleague of the writers.
Democracy Production began in Shanghai in the form of 1,000 dolls which speak the constitution (known as The New Constitution) when a button is pressed. The production was executed in three separate stages: one (in Shantou, south China) which produces the plastic moulded toy, a second which makes the voice chip/circuit board for speaking the constitution, and a third which installs and tests the voice chip (in Guangzhou, south China).
Importing Democracy took place in three ports through which the goods passed en route to the UK. Initially they were packed into a container in Huang Pu port in Guangzhou, then transported by barge to Kwai Chung container base in Hong Kong, where they were loaded for the journey to Felixstowe in the UK.
The project was first shown in 2008 at The Royal Standard in Liverpool. The project was consequently shown in the Bluecoat in Liverpool, in late 2011, and in Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdansk in early 2012.
The project website features an extensive blog about the production of the written constitution in China, and downloads of the written text. Click here to see the blog.