Delicate as the Clouds: Artistic Comments on Democracy

A Few Words About the Exhibition

On December 2019, GLAM Hack presented the exhibition “Delicate as the clouds: Artistic comments on Democracy”, curated by Revekka Kefalea. The exhibition was a selection of the artworks that were created by Daniil Terletskyy, during his participation in the customised GLAM Hack Workshop “We need to hack the GLAMs to talk about Democracy!”, which was offered in the context of European Youth Weeks 2019. 

Daniil’s artworks were accompanied by quotations from academic books and articles to stimulate and promote interdisciplinary dialogue and critical thinking on the topic of democracy. All the materials of the exhibition were prepared, and were presented with basic means and materials, to show that something aesthetically pleasing, meaningful and influential can be created almost out of nothing. 

The opening of the exhibition took place in the context of the first GLAM Hack B-day / X-mas Party (December 1st, 2019), and the exhibition was on GLAM Hack Exhibition Wall for one month. But in case you missed it, you can have a look at its digital version below. 

The Exhibition

This work of art is the result of the manipulation of a photo representing numerous types of apples in a supermarket. The manipulation of the original photo consists in a simple polar (radial) pixelation but the concept behind it is rather broad. Whenever we walk in a supermarket, quite often we can feel confused because of the huge offer of different types of products. The decision making process can become rather complicated due to external variables such as time and energy constraints, and therefore the average consumer ends up buying the products better shown (nice packaging, better exposure, etc.) rather than those which are actually more valid.

This metaphor can be applied to the democratic system: often people vote for a certain party rather than another one, simply because some parties are much better in communicating and selling their ideas and plans to the citizens, therefore more skilled in manipulating their voters. The polar pixelation represents a democratic parliament, where different colours stand for different parties. The result is a colourful parliament where confusion and conflicts of interests can lead to extremely slow decision making processes in situations where a rapid solution is needed.

“The ways in which issues and the popular will on any issue are being manufactured is exactly analogous to the ways of commercial advertising. We find the same attempts to contact the subconscious. We find the same technique of creating favorable and unfavorable associations which are the more effective the less rational they are. We find the same evasions and reticences and the same trick of producing opinion by reiterated assertion that is successful precisely to the extent to which it avoids rational argument and the danger of awakening the critical faculties of the people.”

Schumpeter, J. 1976 (1942), Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, London, Routledge, p. 263.

This work of art wants to convey that the democratic system could be considered as delicate as the clouds we see in the sky. A stable democracy is the result of a long process, but as soon an external variable such as an economic crisis or migration (or the two together) occur, the clouds representing democracy are blown away by the wind and instability arrives. Citizens start voting for populist and nationalist parties, therefore acting emotionally rather than rationally since they want to hear practical and immediate solutions for their new, and sometimes unjustified fears. The processing applied to the original image was chosen due to the fact that is changes the code of the picture. The code of the picture is the democracy which is being modified by some sudden events.

“The theory of participatory democracy is built round the central assertion that individuals and their institutions cannot be considered in isolation from one another. The existence of representative institutions at national level is not sufficient for democracy; for maximum participation by all the people at that level of socialisation, or ‘social training’, for democracy must take place in other spheres in order that the necessary individual attitudes and psychological qualities can be developed. This development takes place through the process of participation itself. The major function of participation in the theory of participatory democracy is therefore an educative one, educative in the very widest sense, including both the psychological aspect and the gaining of practice in democratic skills and procedures. Thus there is no special problem about the stability of a participatory system; it is self-sustaining through the educative impact of the participatory process. Participation develops and fosters the very qualities necessary for it; the more individuals participate the better able they become to do so. Subsidiary hypotheses about participation are that it has an integrative effect and that it aids the acceptance of collective decisions.”

Pateman, C., 1970, Participation and Democratic Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 42-43. 

This work of art is the most abstract one. The original picture represented two young people studying in a library in front of some books and a laptop. The success of a democratic system is based on the level of education of the new generations. Knowledge is the answer to most of the problems of democracy. A highly educated and informed society is able to analyse and understand the reality surrounding their nation and therefore to express their will through a responsible and conscious vote. Thinking critically allows to better react to unexpected situations and permits to have a long-term vision. This is fundamental for a stable and coherent political environment. The original picture was heavily modified since it wants to show how a democracy can be complicated if we do not have the tools to understand it due to our level of education.

Daniil Terletskyy – Short Bio (December 2019)

Daniil Terletskyy is currently a second year undergraduate student enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in International Economics and Management (programme taught entirely in English) at Bocconi University in Milan. After finishing his Secondary School studies, he still had rather broad interests. This is one of the reasons why he decided to undertake management studies at the university, where he can combine both his humanistic and analytical skills. He also really wanted to live and study in an international environment and to have the opportunity to stay in contact and communicate with people from all around the world. His passions and interests are art, design, architecture, theatre, but also sustainability, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. He is particularly interested in the luxury sector and this is the field he would probably like to work in the future. Nonetheless, he tries to keep his horizons as wide as possible, always willing to discover and learn something new about leading trends in different sectors and fields.


The support of GLAM Hack for the creation of these artworks does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the creator. GLAM Hack cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of both the artworks and the information contained in this webpage.