As the prevalence of surveillance technologies and practices have dramatically increased both internationally and domestically, media activists and community organizers remind us the complex nature of surveillance as a tool of state power, as well as how different communities are affected by such a systemic apparatus. In April of this year, 2014, a representative of a group called ICU Oakland gave a talk in the Bay Area focusing on the need to re-configure public understanding of the surveillance discourse. Salima Hamirani, provided a critical and alternative perspective on how surveillance has impacted marginalized and disenfranchised communities, since its inception.
ICU Oakland started as a project of friends who met through the Allied Media Conference (AMC) in 2013. All of them had spent some time thinking about surveillance and its sudden thrust into the limelight after the NSA leaks. ICU Oakland began giving surveillance camera walking tours of Oakland as a way to start conversations. But, what they are really interested in exploring is how surveillance affects those in poverty, those on parole, those on welfare, the incarcerated, undocumented or documented immigrants, black and brown youth in public schools and activists holding down street protests in Oakland.
Salima Hamirani is a media activist active in the Bay Area. She also produces for the west coast radio program, Apex Express on KPFA.
The Whitney Museum’s 2014 biennial opened with controversy and criticism when the Yams Collective, a multidisciplinary group of artists who describe themselves as “representing the African diaspora", withdrew their contribution to the exhibit in response to the inclusion of the work of Joe Scanlan, a white male artist who is currently the Director of Visual Arts at Princeton University. APF sat down with Ryan Wong, one of New York’s rising young curators and we asked Ryan to speak about the Biennial and the reality of the mainstream art world’s general inability to confront racism and racial violence in works of art, as well as issues of representation of artists of color, specifically Asian American artists.
As a response to the controversy surrounding Joe Scanlan's presence at the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Ryan wrote a satirical piece entitled, " I am Joe Scanlan."
Ryan Wong is an independent curator and art writer based in Brooklyn, New York. He was previously Assistant Curator at the Museum of Chinese in America, where he organized the exhibition "June 4, 1989," and assisted on numerous exhibitions, including "America Through a Chinese Lens" and "Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s." Previously, he worked in the exhibitions office of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has contributed writing to Hyperallergic, The Brooklyn Rail, ArtSlant, and BKLYNR.
"We are the Children" by Chris Kando Iijima and Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto