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
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)
New York, New York
April 25 – June 21, 2008
Huarte Centro de Arte Contemporáneo
July 4 – September 28, 2008
The Decker Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art
November 6 – December 14, 2008
for Open Culture, Columbus College of Art & Design
February 25 – April 25, 2009
May 2009 - July 2009
Pomona College Museum of Art
August 25 – October 19, 2009
November 2009 - June 2010