Jan Davis
artist’s book
Democracy Counts

Democracy Counts is a play on two meanings of the word ‘count’; (i) to be significant, and (ii) the act of determining the total number of something.

In this work Davis reflects on the electoral system which makes a parliament accountable to the people. Small watercolour marks represent a vote for different parties. Each vote has been meticulously numbered in graphite pencil. The votes accumulate as the reader proceeds through the thirty-two pages of the book, until the total number is determined for each party and translated into seats in parliament. Each book in the edition has a slightly different outcome.

As she painted votes and drew numbers under them (many thousands during the production of the editions), Davis thought about the contribution to democracy that each person makes as they enter a voting booth and mark their electoral paper with those finely-sharpened, but rather short graphite pencils provided by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Tucked inside the back cover is a photograph the artist took on the streets of Paris during the 2012 French Presidential election, a comic reminder that not everyone believes in the power of the vote.

Red, blue, and green, watercolour dots, cumulatively numbered below, represent votes cast. Softbound red cover stamped 123456789, stitched, with pocket in back cover containing a photograph. Watercolour, graphite pencil with stamping on 100 gsm ivory Freelife vellum, 20 x 30 cm., 32 pp. Edition of 5 variable artist books.

Democracy Counts was made for the Lessons in History Vol. II – Democracy held at grahame galleries + editions in 2012. The edition sold out during the exhibition and Davis produced Recounting Democracy, another look at the voting system.

Grahame, N 2012, Lessons in History Vol. II : Democracy, numero uno publications, grahame galleries + editions, Brisbane. pp. 22, 23

Lessons in History Vol. II – Democracy, grahame galleries + editions, 2012.

National Library of Australia
State Library of Queensland
State Library of NSW
Bibliotheca Librorum Apud Artificum
Private Collection