Surveillance is a delicate issue at the best of times. Whether discussing the inhumanity of phone-hacking or the mistrust of placing CCTV cameras on every street corner, it’s a subject that spawns controversy even when playing nice. Suzanne Treister is no exception, and although her messages are somewhat coded with ambiguity, the overall concept of her work seems entrancing. After creating her path through the ever-changing World of the 80s, Treister has now opened her newest exhibition at Primary entitled ‘Post-Surveillance Art’. How meta.
So what exactly is there to see? Well, her newest set of works spans a very echoey gallery on the upper foyer of the building, and consists of several canvases strung from the ceiling to form a maze of photoshoppery. Images which naturally snatch your attention include a data encryption treatise that morphed simple words into an unreadable mess, and an Austin-Powers-esque print that read ‘NSA ON DRUGS’ (a possible snipe at the company’s dark track record). The works all encompassed a post-Snowden world of awareness, and were all simple images which had been altered and psychedelically-reshaped into explorative art.
Except it’s the kind of exploration that can only be likened to an overly-political acid trip. And from the evidence presented, I’d assume that Treister wanted to mash together the ever-clashing world of drugs and politics, and explore how topics so vastly different can actually intertwine… Which leads you to wonder: is the world clearer on LSD? Does the government reveal its tricks only to the stoned? And will somebody please tell me if there’ll be a fourth season to House of Cards?
So I don’t know if it had something to do with the 18-hole Adventure Golf we dabbled in afterwards, but the thought-enrapturing questions which Treister’s work ignited about our now ‘super-secure’ world felt like a fun change from the modern art scene. Frankly, I’m so used to seeing dark and aggressive approaches to the security-sector, that the concept of juxtaposing the world of government and the world of drugs made the subject much more approachable. And – if you’ll pardon the pun – ‘user-friendly.’
To play Devil’s advocate, however, I’d suggest a much larger set of works or a collaboration next time. The journey and build-up were ever so slightly flattened by the one room of fifteen wall hangings, and they left us wanting more. Still, if you’re in the area, Treister’s work is on display Thursday to Saturday until May 9th, and is well worth a look. So why not go explore your inner security camera, or maybe pretend you’re high? It could be fun.