The New Normal, Our Illegality

The New Normal

I picked up the exhibition catalogue of the traveling show The New Normal, in which complex issues of privacy in our post 9/11 world are explored by 13 artists.

‘October 25, 2001 – Washington, D.C. Vice President Dick Cheney gives a speech to the Republican Governors Association about the U.S. government’s response to the September 11 attacks. He states, ‘Many of the steps we have now been forced to take will become permanent in American life. They represent an understanding of the world as it is, and dangers we must gauard against perhaps for decades to come. I think of it as the new normalcy.”‘

I thought that the considerations of private space and the “compliant citizen” draw such close correlations to the realm of the illegal that graffiti/street art exist in. The illegal does not necessarily afford, but most definitely creates a space of freedom, whether it be the establishment of alternative institutions/economies or modes of communication, the danger of working beyond and in the shadows of the law is what keeps street art autonomous and democratic.

I think everyone who follows and participates in this expansive scene is very much aware of the risks associated. Insidious surveillance and intrusion into the lives of those who partake or are involved on behalf of the law enforcement is penetrating and commonplace. Hasan Elahi’s continuous piece Tracking Transience in which he is constantly updating his position in google map and uploading pictures of his location and setting as a unwavering proof of his innocence to the Federal Government after being interrogated in June 2002, is especially pertinent to this condition of being constantly watched.


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