Now for a different P.O.V. of life in the U.S.A. This past May, I had the opportunity to see Michele Pred‘s “Fear Culture” displayed at artMRKT. It was the first piece to see upon entering the art fair and also the last one to remember when exiting. I’ve had it on my mind since then, and I thought today’s patriotic holiday would be a great time to surface it.
Pred is a Swedish-American artist and adjunct professor at California College of Art in Oakland, CA. Her body of work entitled “Homeland Security” is a series of pieces “expressing visually how many of our everyday routines have been disrupted since 9/11”. To create the work, she used items confiscated from San Francisco International Airport. (This may bring to mind Christopher Locke’s TSA-confiscated Scissor Spiders.)
I choose to see those objects as representing an arbitrary intrusion of disorder and all that is now lost and unrecoverable. Moreover, the diverse array of assembled “dangerous” items may be regarded as the cultural residue of a particular moment in history. The fine text on the matchboxes, corkscrews and other items is suggestive of the complex geography of that moment, of people and commodities coming into conjuncture with one another.
It’s kind of crazy to think about how we all used to just waltz right through the security check points in our shoes, huh? Our shoes, which could be bombs!
Seeing these ordinary objects, most of them so seemingly harmless, as imbued with the potential for danger may make us laugh, as well as make us angry. The complexity of our response echoes the objects themselves: each small tool, like each of us, bears some of the weight of a changed world.
Think of this work next time you contemplate bringing your toenail clippers on an international flight. Check out the rest of “Homeland Security” here.