Hub of Democracy

Hub of Democracy

Hub of Democracy, Westfield Hurstville Centre Court, January 2013
photo: Lara Thoms

The Hub of Democracy was a space created by Thoms, within the Westfield Hurstville shopping centre, that was reserved for those aged 12 – 19 years old. The Hub offered this group a space to hang out, use free Wi-Fi, play ping pong, and importantly, vote for the 'ultimate’ in a series of categories.

As Artist-in-Residence at the Hub of Democracy, Thoms devised a voting system where local youth could nominate and then vote for the winner, or 'ultimate’ in the following categories: Colour, Time, Smell, Drink, Food, Music, Person and Word. Youth were given eight tokens to vote in each catogory – if they wished – and could return every hour to vote again. The system allowed for the local community to support what they believed was the 'ultimate’ by repeatedly voting, and being able to influence the winner of each category.

In an interview with C3West Curator Anne Loxley, Thoms said of the Hub:

I wanted this artwork to be broad and open to youn people who may not think of themselves as artistic and to acknowledge there is no way to capture a realistic idea of youth trends. The results of the HUB OF DEMOCRACY are specific to this place. You get seven tokens an hour, meaning if you want to manipulate the results you can keep returning and vote to see your preference win. The idea that I can capture the best things in youth culture is quite farcical, as youth tastes are notoriously shifting and diverse.

In offering a space dedicated to youth the Hub of Democracy started a conversation amongst the local community about the visibility and representation of this key demographic in the shopping centre. While children have been catered for with play equipment and rides, and a number of senior citizens enjoy the common tables and furniture of the centre, the Hub offered a space where youth could influence how their surroundings are determined.

On Sunday 28 January, Lara announced the winners of each category with an 'official’ results ceremony. The ceremony involved youth both as performers and also to announce and receive awards for each prize. You can see photos from the results ceremony below.