[ISEA2011] Panel: Bernadette Buck­ley – Polic­ing the Po­lice in a Post 9/11 Cul­ture

Panel Statement

Panel:  If You See Something Say Something: Art, War, Surveillance and the Sustainability of Urgency in the Post 9/11 Era

In a cul­ture of mass-me­di­ated ter­ror/ism, Ranciere’s no­tion of polic­ing takes up from where Fou­cault’s dis­cus­sion of Ben­tham’s ‘panop­ti­can’ ends.  For Ranciere, polic­ing is not so much the ‘dis­ci­plin­ing’ of bod­ies as a rule gov­ern­ing their ap­pear­ing – it is “a con­fig­u­ra­tion of oc­cu­pa­tions and the prop­er­ties of the spaces where these oc­cu­pa­tions are dis­trib­uted” (Jacques Ranciere, Dis­agree­ment, 1998, p.29). What hap­pens then, when the pow­er­ful and ubiq­ui­tous strate­gies of or­der­ing, con­trol­ling and polic­ing are re­versed – when the po­lice are them­selves po­liced; when the ‘voice­less’ begin to in­ter­fere in the rules of ap­pear­ance? When Wael Ghonin cre­ated a Face­book page for Khalid Said, the 28-year-old Egypt­ian man who died after al­legedly being beaten by po­lice, the page be­came a ral­ly­ing point for the Jan­u­ary 25 protests against Mubarek’s regime in Egypt. When demon­stra­tions started to flag, an in­ter­view with Ghonin, broad­cast on You Tube, again gal­va­nized pro­test­ers, who came back on the streets in large num­bers in order to press for an end to the Mubarak regime. Sim­i­larly, many artists are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to the strate­gies of sousveil­lance in order to ex­plore and sub­vert ex­ist­ing power re­la­tions in a post 9/11 cul­ture. By turn­ing nor­ma­tive tools of sur­veil­lance and/or sys­tems of dataveil­lance, back upon them­selves, such artists seek to pro­duce meth­ods by which to counter-ter­rorise or de­con­struct the mech­a­nisms of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence as a se­ries of ap­pear­ances in media events. This paper ex­plores how, for artists like Rod Dick­in­son, Harun Farocki, Voina, Vi­sion Ma­chine or Uber­mor­gan, strate­gies of sur­veil­lance and con­trol can be re­played in re­verse and how the rules of ap­pear­ance can be re­vis­ited and ‘de­tourned’.

  • Dr. Bernadette Buck­ley joined the De­part­ment of In­ter­na­tional Pol­i­tics at Gold­smiths (UK) in 2007. Be­fore ar­riv­ing at Gold­smiths, she was a lec­turer in Con­tem­po­rary Art The­ory & Prac­tice at the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Cul­tural & Her­itage Stud­ies, New­cas­tle Uni­ver­sity. Buck­ley’s re­search in­ter­ests tra­verse a num­ber of dif­fer­ent fields. She has long since been in­ter­ested in the com­plex re­la­tion­ships be­tween art and war and/or art and ter­ror­ism. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously how­ever, her in­ter­est in ‘Gallery Stud­ies’ has led her to ex­plore the re­la­tion­ship be­tween ‘cu­rat­ing’ and ‘cre­at­ing’ and to in­ves­ti­gate the on­tol­ogy of cu­rat­ing from the per­spec­tive of the ‘event’. In this vein also, she is also in­ter­ested in the (de)dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween ‘con­tem­po­rary art’, ‘her­itage’, ‘ed­u­ca­tion’ and other areas of prac­tice. Ad­di­tion­ally she has ex­plored no­tions of (un)‘ed­u­ca­tion’ both in ‘artis­tic’ and in ‘gallery’ prac­tices. Dr. Buck­ley is a Board Mem­ber of Tate Pa­pers and the Jour­nal for Mu­seum Ed­u­ca­tion and a mem­ber of Po­larts, the ECPR Stand­ing Group for Pol­i­tics and the Arts.  She wrote the chap­ter, TER­RI­BLE BEAU­TIES , for Art in the Age of Ter­ror­ism, eds. G. Coul­ter Smith & M. Owen, Paul Hol­ber­ton, New York, 2005. The De­struc­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage in Iraq by P.?Stone, and J. Far­chakh, eds., HMP: Lon­don, 2008, an edited col­lec­tion of es­says for which she wrote a chap­ter on the im­pli­ca­tions for con­tem­po­rary artists, re­cently won the 2011 James Wise­man prize, from the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute of Amer­ica.