To make something visible... if it were only as easy as it sounds! And yet, this project has succeeded in doing exactly that - in the same way advanced medicine creates images using cancer cell markers.
Frederike Tappe-Hornbostel (German Federal Cultural Foundation)
Conspiracy Dwellings is a visual arts project that explores the legacy of state surveillance. Presented are a network of almost 500 secret apartments and institutions in Erfurt from which the former East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi) operated from 1980 to 1989. Initiated by British artist Pam Skelton and German scholar Joachim Heinrich, the project displayed audio/video installations in locations around the city of Erfurt based on the network of Conspiracy dwellings that were used for spying and denunciation and uses the original locations of the conspiracy dwellings to reveal the surveillance practices of that time. Set up to maintain secrecy in an environment of fear, observation and control, the 'home' proved to be an effective tool for spying on friends, colleagues and family. In this project the notion of home is dramatically upset as the domestic becomes yet another vehicle for the invasion of human rights and personal autonomy.
Conspiracy Dwellings was first shown as a multi-site installation in Erfurt, Germany, organised by Verena Kyselka, accompanied by a catalogue of commissioned texts by Christoph Tannert and Gijs van Oenen. The exhibition was followed by a gallery installation and Symposium at South Hill Park, Bracknell UK. Exhibition dates: 28.09.2007 - 20.01.2008. It has since been shown in Tallinn, Bath and Belfast.
Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art
Conspiracy Dwellings: Surveillance in Contemporary Art, edited by Outi Remes and Pam Skelton, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010. The book brings together nine illustrated essays of theorists and art practitioners about artworks made in the midst of conflict or from the position of commentary and critique in topics that span from the '70s to the present day. The contributors Anthony Downey, Christine Eyene, Liam Kelly, Verena Kyselka, Robert Knifton, Outi Remes, Maciej Ożóg, Paula Roush, Matthew Shaul and Pam Skelton consider the practical and theoretical status of surveillance from a variety of positions that include surveillance and its impact on urban space, architecture, citizenship and civil liberties.
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