Bridging Consciousness

Our city’s over-reaction to a river/bridge installation seems par for the course.  My art partner, Elizabeth Somers,  and I proposed an art installation for a pedestrian bridge located on the Animas River here in Durango CO.   As per the ‘process’  stipulated for such proposals, we contacted the head of Parks and Recreation.  She informed us we would need to present our concept to several (three to be exact) groups/orgs that dealt with river issues.  After a brief presentation there was a motion and a second allowing us to go ahead with the project.

We called the Parks & Rec office approximately three weeks later to inquire after the status of our proposal and were told it was approved by the city council and we could proceed.  We were also told we could keep the installation up for one week.   For the project’s inception we’d always thought in terms of ‘temporary’ and ‘finite’, and we were fine with the weeks allotment.   We also stated that our concept was not final and might change due to the nature of the creative process.  Nothing was put in writing  —  Our mistake for not asking.

Some time after the presentation we decided to collect and weave over 600 cd/dvds into a screen that was intended to represent “We, the people”.  I will say, that in our original proposal, it was not mentioned that a cd ‘screen’ would be part of the installation, nor several other components that we added  after the presentation.  




The installation was completed and up for possibly four hours before six ‘peace officers’ dismantled it.  One week prior to this installation the sewage treatment plant was found to be leaking raw sewage by a kayaker on a Friday up river.  Three hundred thousand gallons of untreated sewage spilled into the river for the entire weekend, but the city did not inform anyone of their malfeasance.

The words “If you lived under here you would be home” to me are a play on the real-estate business, but mainly calling attention to the chasm between the business of selling real-estate and the homeless.

While we were installing the piece an army Vet of twelve years was interested in what we were doing and I asked him about his time in the service.  He said he was in Desert Storm and had PTSD,  but the VA would not believe that his ailments were real.  He gets a very small monthly stipend and at this time is housed, but in the past has been homeless.

I believe our Vets were used as tools in the application of a foreign policy that lines the pockets of very powerful individuals and corporations to the detriment of the entire planet.  (IMO, all wars are deception.)  The most prosperous nation on the face of the earth, on any given night, has over 100,000 homeless Vets.  What does that say about our society and more importantly,  what does that say about each and every one of us?  We allow our elected and non-elected bureaucratic officials to wage non-stop wars, fought in our name.  We allow ourselves to be easily controlled by fear.

This tool is in the playbook of governments going far back in time.  If it’s not the Muslims then it’s the Jews.  If not the Jews, it’s the Christians.  If not the Christians it’s the Mexicans.  If not the Mexicans, it’s the Japanese.  If not him it is you.  It’s time for the human race to realize we are all the same,  and the real enemy is ourselves.

We have to start living in harmony with each other and just as importantly, with the earth that provides for us.  By treating the planet like we have a spare,  the inevitable crash will arrive sooner rather than later.  Maybe the earth is trying to correct the imbalance called Man by all of these climatic changes and wars.   The financial system is killing the planet, any system based on non-stop growth eventually will collapse under it’s own weight.

It's like people in a drag net

Police 'Drag net' composed of we the people

Financial terrorist, question mark, homeless and WE the people

where unwanted art goes to die-maybe the idea will live on

City pickup at cemetery with entire art piece in bed

I thank first and foremost Elizabeth, my partner.   Then  Zoe, Alden, Crystal, Sharon, Summer, Michael, Mike — everyone who provided CDs/DVDs (Sofia via the generosity of The Methodist Thrift) — and the City of Durango and the various river boards for allowing us to install this piece — short-lived though it was.   Also Scott Griggs for his excellent photo documentation.

Bridging Consciousness

Elizabeth Somers & Jeff Madeen

More questions than answers, but if we don?t ask the questions we will never get to the answers.

Why does the wealthiest country in the history of the world on any given night have over 100,000 of its military vets homeless?

Why do we have a defense budget that equals the next 45 countries combined?

Why do the bankers that caused the global economic meltdown get bailed out and receive record bonuses year after year?

Why do 1 percent of the wealthiest people own 50% of all the wealth?

Why does America have the largest prison population on the planet?

American prisons cost us 600 billion per year, who benefits? Who populates these prisons?

Why do 43 million Americans receive food stamps?

Why does the central government get larger every year, but the benefits the average citizen receives, get smaller?

Why are interest rates at a 50 year low, but no one can get a loan?

Why could anyone wanting a loan get one without any money down in the years 2003-2007?

Why do essential commodities such as food and fuel go up yet real wages have not risen since the 70s?

Why does Ben Bernanke (head of federal reserve) say there is no inflation?

Why do we allow a private central bank to control the issuance of our currency?

Why is this currency issuance based on debt?

Why does our country involve itself in almost endless wars? Answer it creates debt.

Why do we have a war on terror? Can it be won? What does a win look like?

Why do our elected officials become millionaires after one term?

Why has the real value of a dollar(what it buys) decreased by 96% since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913?

Who created the Federal Reserve?

Why did we get off the gold standard in 1971?

Why is gold at record highs?

Who did the Federal Reserve lend 16 trillion in low interest loans to?

Why do we allow corporate consolidation so there is only a handful of corporations in any sector?

Why did we allow our manufacturing to go to a country that we used to call an enemy.  This country has worker dorms, limited freedoms, no free speech and no pollution controls?

What is the purpose of QE2-QE3 who benefits?  What does this do to savers?

Why are modern small appliances and communication devises manufactured without replaceable parts?

Why do we allow industrial seed producers to patent their seeds?

Why do industrial food manufactures not have to label foods containing GMO?s?

Why do we subsidize corn production?

Why is there a dead zone not related to the oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico the size of New Jersey?

Why do we subsidize oil companies?

Why is the power grid centralized?

Why do we continue to use food production methods that deplete soil at rates well above replacement levels?

Why do government workers put their hands down our pants in airports?

Why did the Supreme Court pass Citizens United?

Why do 106,000 people die per year taking properly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs.

Why do Americans not understand the financial system, why do they think things will get better?

Why do six corporations own every main stream news agency and Hollywood studio, that includes PBS and NPR.

Why does the average American watch four hours of TV programming per day? Why is it called programming?

Why is critical thinking not taught in public schools?

These are only a few of the questions we should be asking ourselves. We the people have to break the control methods and interact with each other to find real solutions.

Materials used: the words


600 cd/dvds woven into a screen representing we the people

Dimensions 9?x10?H

Metal V clad in fine steel wool 42”x68”H


If there were money in peace there would be no war

Wood question mark with my brain scans laminated on each block

10-15 count 1/4”x2”x8? clear plexiglass strips with words mounted on them.

See Herald article and editorial links below.

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5 Responses to Bridging Consciousness

  1. Scott Griggs says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing the photos. And, it is nice to hear the other side of the story. I know that’s what you are all about, getting the other side of the story out “there”. I thought the installation was great. It made me think — that’s what ART does, and should do. At least in my own humble opinion.
    The city dropped the ball. If it had a little more forethought there wouldn’t have been any controversy. Maybe imagination would be a better word.

  2. John Casebeer says:

    Sounds like your on the right track, keep up the good work!

    • jeff says:

      Thank you John

      • Bruna says:

        i love this post so much. i still haven’t ferigud out how to deal with the question. like you say, if you turn it around the question becomes offensive. how about, because i’d like to continue my education and develop my career as a professional human being who has great earning potential and thus greater capacity to contribute to my community.’there’s that one, and then the fact that it’s simply a pretty undesirable gig.i just don’t think it needs to be an everyday topic of discussion.

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