Overview participating exhibitions
The installation, IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL, is set in the space between what global surveillance firms promote in their self-representation, and what the testimonies of those directly affected by these technologies disclose.
In the past decade, the industry that satisfies governments’ demand for surveillance of mass communications has skyrocketed, and it is one of today's most rapidly burgeoning markets. A variety of products sold include ready-to-use monitoring centers that are able to silently access, process, and store years of electronic communications of entire countries.
While most of these products are undetectable by design, those who sell them have developed a strong corporate image. Branding concepts applied in promotional materials emphasise protection against vague but potent threats. Access to intimate details of correspondence is presented as impersonal data, petabytes stored and packets inspected.
The detached technical jargon and sanitized clip-art aesthetic work to obscure a deep-rooted partiality. Communication surveillance is a fundamental part of law enforcement operations meant to benefit those it vows to protect, in as much as it is a weapon for preserving power by infringing on the privacy of those who oppose it.
To Have and Have Not
In STATE BUSINESS the photographer Mari Bastashevski focuses on organizations and individuals who profit from the commercial aspects of protracted armed conflicts. On the basis of examples – in this case, the shadowy weapons deliveries to Armenia and Azerbaijan, which are involved in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh – one can demonstrate how commerce fuels these conflicts. An array of images, text and documents expose the underlying mechanisms and raise questions about the economic and ethical aspects of trade related to conflicts. In this, Bastashevski’s concerns include the grey area between legal and illegal trade, the culture of secrecy, perverse stimuli, the overlap between governments and commercial enterprises, and the rationalizations denying responsibility.
Mari Bastashevski (Soviet Union, b. 1980) studied political science and art history in Copenhagen. Between 2007 and 2010 she worked in Russia and the North Caucasus on a project about kidnappings. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and Esquire, among other periodicals, and has been exhibited at Paris Photo, the Open Society Foundations and other venues. In 2011 Bastashevski was artist in residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.