Art

At a Surveillance-Themed Art Fair, Snowden Bust Is the Star

Anonymity, no longer an option
Installation view of Seven’s ‘Anonymity, no longer an option’ at the Boiler (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

A red light blinking from a gilded security camera greets visitors to Seven’s surveillance-themed Anonymity, no longer an option. The seventh edition of the collaborative Seven exhibition has seven galleries representing seven artists at Pierogi’s The Boiler in Williamsburg, with a very special guest: the anonymously-made Edward Snowden bust that infiltrated Fort Greene Park last month and was recently released by the NYPD.

Anonymity, no longer an option
Anonymous, “Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument 2.0, AKA ‘The Snowden Statue’” (2015), galvanized steel, hydrocal FGR 95, latex, enamel, oil paint, powdered gold

Seven is one of the smaller gallery offerings this Frieze Week, and the advantage of that scale is a tighter focus that can have some meaning beyond overdosing on art. Those gold-leafed closed circuit television cameras by Addie Wagenknecht, presented by Bitforms Gallery, may be disabled, but they provide a symbolic entrance into an exhibition that reminds you at each turn that you’re being watched. Trevor Paglen with Metro Pictures has a couple of large-scale photographs of government defense measures including the Gorgon Stare surveillance blimp involving multiple covert cameras, and Postmasters Gallery (which also helped bring the Snowden bust) has Katarzyna Kozyra’s 1997 hidden camera shots of women inside a Budapest public bathhouse. Each piece has some scavenged information, although Anonymity might be more powerful if it explained more how data was pulled from our world and used in these pieces, emphasizing the impact on our individual lives (which is exactly what the information leaked by Snowden did). The late Mark Lombardi hosted by Pierogi Gallery has a chart connecting the World Finance Corporation and associates all gleaned from the news and publications, and Mark Tribe with Momenta Art has an aerial landscape based on available geospatial data of a wetland in Colusa county, California.

Even without Snowden’s bust towering in the center of the room, looking a bit less regal off his renegade perch at the Fort Greene Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument and on a white column instead, there is plenty of strong work on the vulnerability of our information. From Sam Van Aken’s “Myshkin’s Idiot Light” presented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts pulsing with lights at the rate of brain synapsis, to Wagenknecht’s “Kilohydra 2” flashing LEDs from a tangle of chords on the wall that are responding to logged anonymous data from local Wifi, it feels claustrophobic even in the Boiler’s roomy industrial space.

Anonymity, no longer an option
Addie Wagenknecht, “-r-xr-xr-x” (2014), two surveillance cameras, gold leaf (Bitforms Gallery)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Trevor Paglen, “Contrails (R-4808N Restricted Airspace, NV)” (2012), C-print (Metro Pictures)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Addie Wagenknecht, “Kilohydra 2” (2014), custom designed PCB boards, ethernet patch cables, 80/20 aluminum (Bitforms Gallery)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Katarzyna Kozyra, “Women’s Bathhouse” (1997/2015), color photographs (Postmasters Gallery)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Sam Van Aken, “Myshkin’s Idiot Light” (2015), mixed media (Ronald Feldman Fine Arts)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Mark Tribe, “Colusa” (2014), UV print on Dibond (Momenta Art)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Mark Tribe, “Birdsall II” and “V” (2012), digital video (Momenta Art)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Suzanne Treister, “Post Surveillance Art” (2014), 20 archival giclée prints on Hahnemuhle Bamboo paper (PPOW)
Anonymity, no longer an option
Anonymous, “Prison Ship Martyr’s Monument 2.0, AKA ‘The Snowden Statue’” (2015), galvanized steel, hydrocal FGR 95, latex, enamel, oil paint, powdered gold

Anonymity, no longer an option continues as part of Seven at The Boiler (191 North 14th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) through May 17.

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