The Habeas Lounge is a space for civic dialogue where project staff, and volunteers work together to curate a series of public discussions and exchanges on critical civic and democracy-related topics. The Lounge uses the built environment to provide a publicly available space that promotes dialogue. Artists design a space aimed at breaking away from the typical dynamics of the panel discussion. The space is laid out using special materials, backdrops, and arrangements so as to create a more fluid and inclusive atmosphere where candid civic exchange is encouraged and promoted. The communal seating arrangement takes the form of a red serpentine-shaped couch, serving as the focal point of the lounge and physically bringing participants face to face.
The original Habeas Lounge was built for the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica, California to host a program addressing constitutional issues in anticipation of the 2008 presidential election. In the time since, a series of offshoots have been created. Habeas Lounge: A Pluralistic Downtown Los Angeles Investigation used space in the Ernst and Young Plaza in L.A. for a series of public dialogues about urban planning for the city. An accompanying map-based exhibition allowed visitors to interpolate their own ideas and visions for the city.
The project since has traveled to the CUNY Graduate Center Gallery in Mid Manhattan for a series on constitutional democracy and to the concourse of a plaza in Manhattan’s financial district for a series on the economic recession. In the summer of 2009, the Lounge was built for the city of Wroclaw, Poland, for a dialogue series about democracy and the Polish Constitution. In 2010, the project traveled to Newark, New Jersey to host discussions that address city-life issues specific to Newark such as transportation, infrastructure, development, housing, safety, and health services.
Organizations and artists associated witht this project include: Linda Pollack; Llaria Mazzolen; Nina Marie Barbuto; 18th Street Art Center; CUNY Graduate Center Gallery; and Rupert Ravens Contemporary.