Reframing History with ‘Redeclarations’ by Halim Madi

By Ellie Bouwer

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by a group of 56 men nearly two and a half centuries ago, declared dissent from an unjust, oppressive government. This same document now serves as the basis for a nation which many citizens feel similarly oppressed by.

Halim Madi, a Santa Barbara–based digital poet, highlights this ironic relationship in his new digital art project, Redeclarations, an interactive endeavor that invites viewers to write their own declarations by selecting words and phrases from the original Declaration of Independence. Madi says he opted to use parts of the original document rather than rewrite the whole thing from scratch in an attempt to “reuse the soil from which we grew as a nation to reinvent the nation itself.”

Madi, a Lebanese immigrant, says he created this project as a way to reconcile the concept of America as a “land of dreams,” with his real experience living in America: an experience which is the result of a complex, fraught history. Reflecting on this disparity, Madi discusses the purpose of his project: “How could I make this country mine? How could I re-found America?” The answer was a collaborative art project — one which makes space for hundreds of voices to be heard.

This art project was created as a series of NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, which are pieces of art linked to a blockchain, which is an unchangeable public ledger. Madi explains, “Once something has been put on the blockchain, it can’t really be tampered with, as long as computers exist. The Declaration of Independence was printed on paper. These pieces of paper will one day compost and they will return to soil, whereas Redeclarations will actually outlive any piece of documentation on paper.”

To participate in this project or view existing redeclarations, visit redeclarations.com.

Initially published at The Independent

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