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Kota Ezawa, Home Video II, 2007 (video still)

The New Normal brings together thirteen recent artworks that use private information as raw material and subject matter. The concept of privacy, though widely invoked, is difficult to define. The private sphere encompasses domestic spaces, bodies, thoughts, communications, and behaviors—contexts that are usually rendered inaccessible to the public eye by legal, social, and physical boundaries. The practices that demarcate the private sphere are so much a part of the fabric of everyday life—wearing clothing, politely pretending not to overhear a cell-phone conversation— that they only become noticeable when they shift, making the private sphere visible to the public eye. Privacy, to put it bluntly, captures our attention only when it is under threat.

In the wake of 9/11, the specter of terrorism was used to justify increased collection and sharing of personal data by governments around the world. This time of heightened surveillance, characterized by luggage searches, Internet monitoring, and wiretaps, was dubbed “the new normal” by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

The spread of social technology has affected privacy no less profoundly. With the rise of online commerce, many banks and retailers have developed sophisticated methods of tracking and studying the behavior of consumers, while increased use of the Internet has created new platforms for voluntary self-disclosure, from blogs to MySpace. Private information has never been less private, as evinced by Kota Ezawa’s Home Video II, made from “leaked” video files of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s honeymoon,widely available on the Web. Each of the works in The New Normal—video, Web sites, sculpture, artist’s books, found objects, and photographs—grants access to the private sphere of the artists themselves, of strangers, and of public officials. Overall, the exhibition creates a sense that access to private information is a kind of currency, the exchange of which is growing and evolving in bewildering ways. We may find it frightening or fascinating, but we are all inescapably complicit in it.

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue co-published with Artists Space, New York, with essays by guest curator Michael Connor, Clay Shirky and Marisa Olson.

Explore a Web site created for the exhibition to see images, Web links, exhibition tour, order a catalogue, or read the curator's blog.

Jill Magid, Lincoln Ocean Victor Eddy, 2007 (detail)

Exhibition Itinerary

Artists Space
New York, New York
April 25 – June 21, 2008

Huarte Centro de Arte Contemporáneo
Huarte, Spain
July 4 – September 28, 2008

The Decker Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art
Baltimore, Maryland
November 6 – December 14, 2008

Bureau for Open Culture, Columbus College of Art & Design
Columbus, Ohio
February 25 – April 25, 2009

May 2009 - July 2009

Pomona College Museum of Art
Claremont, California
August 25 – October 19, 2009

November 2009 - June 2010



Guest curator
Michael Connor

Co-organized with
Artists Space, New York

Artists in exhibition

Mohamed Camara
Hasan Elahi
Eyebeam R & D/Jonah Peretti &   Michael Frumin
Kota Ezawa

Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher

Guthrie Lonergan
Jill Magid
Jennifer and Kevin McCoy
Trevor Paglen
Corinna Schnitt
Thomson & Craighead
Sharif Waked

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