AUTHORITY TO REMOVE: SURVEILLANCE AND ENFORCEMENT IN RECENT ART
Master's Thesis at California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA
Since the Cold War, and particularly since the September 11 terrorist attacks, transnational policing and an emphasis on border surveillance and charged international relations have become the norm. The three artists I discuss in this paper—Tania Bruguera, Jill Magid, and Emily Jacir—engage directly with the cultural complexities of our political moment. They live and work in distinct cultural contexts and I bring them together in this paper to point to the global issue of of the modern surveillance state. As artists they expose ways systems of control, such as surveillance and censorship, are used to manipulate and repress the average citizen.
Jeremy Bentham's design for the Panopticon prison was adopted in the 1970s by Michel Foucault as a powerful symbol of repressive institutional systems. I address Andrea Faser's writings on artistic autonomy that directly contradict Foucault's diagnosis and address dissent as powerful forces in artistic practice. Surveillance may be a fact of the modern world, but the artists I discuss take full advantage of their unique position to fight against its normalizing effects.