2004-05-26 - The photo-action, video Apex Art Gallery, New York

To enter the USA nowadays, as a Russian citizen I have to leave my fingerprints. This method of personal identification comes from criminology: in this manner criminals can be easily controlled. automatically a possible crime. Does it mean that everyone who wishes to visit the US is automatically considered a potential criminal/terrorist? What is the status of society of supervision in the modern world?
For Michel Foucault the Panopticum was a symbol for a society of supervision: an optimum architectural construction in which the supervisor can observe the prisoners unhindered. Thus one could sadly conclude today that Foucault’s terms can account for a modern developed society. Furthermore, the more prosperous the country, the more transparent the actions of its citizens, as one can see when comparing advanced capitalist countries like US or Switzerland to the less financially stable Russia or Latin America, where corruption may allow to escape social scrutiny.

It is not by chance that a Russian citizen is able to create an existence outside of mainstream social structures and to integrate instead into a social body that is usually known in the west as mafia. Russian mafia is feared, and a Russian blonde causes panic in every European consulate. To a Russian it is much harder to gain entry into the US than it is for a German or a French citizen. Many immigrants thus find themselves walking the tightrope of law and crime, which paradoxically may afford them a degree of self-realization that they would not have been able to find. 
The exhibit Hello New York, problematizes just the contradiction inherent in the conflict between personal freedom of an artistic statement and the control on the part of the state.

Video: disguised as a policeman I’m walking down the street in New York.
I have "blind" lenses on my very eyes thus I can see nothing.
This character is a methapor of power.
The video is followed by a known song “Hello New York”.


© Elena Kovylina, 2003-2008