The Story of Democraczy: Chapter One
by Martin Gantman
In the beginning there were no drawn lines – nor was there greed.
Homo sapiens sapiens: 30,000 BC
Homo sapiens: 130,000 BC
Homo erectus: 1,500,000 BC
Homo habilis: 2,500,000 BC
By the time the primordial seep began to bubble up to an area now known as the La Brea Tar Pits (coincidentally sharing land beneath and alongside the existing Los Angeles County Museum of Art) homos habilis, erectus, and sapiens sapiens had long been traversing the surface of most continents. By 30,000 BC, if not earlier, sapiens sapiens were registering their preoccupations on the interior walls of their habitats. Now recognized as an early art form, we are able to compare that activity to various configurations of contemporary graffiti – scratching our heads in bereaved contemplation about the difference between graffiti and graffiti art – or is all personal political expression considered art?
Here, in what would eventually come to be known as the Los Angeles basin – in a couple of languages – lying strewn across the bed of seething tar or in the visitor’s center that is a continuing dig on the museum site, one can see one possible outcome engendered by such desire, though primarily in lesser specie. For me it is a reminder of the ill-founded stuckness that might occur when one desires to take on a topic as broad and complex as the story of democracy.
By that time also, the time of Lascaux, it is speculated that the idea of personal freedoms was embedded in these ancestors. And thus was also born the need to find a way to protect and expand on such freedoms (and/or rights) as life became more complex in the ensuing millennia.