In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt illustrates the “lesser of two evils” principle by relating the peculiar story of a state archive of photographs of women in swimwear. During the Nazi period, she writes, to receive a marriage license Czech women applying to marry German soldiers were required to furnish a photograph of themselves dressed in swimwear. Taking its cue from this historic example, this study traces the evolution of a phenomenon the author describes as state-incriminating, coproduced archives, visual archives that are coproduced by representatives of the legal and political order in the name of law, and by the subjects who are obliged to participate in their creation: staging and documenting their own performance to become or remain lawful citizens. Examining this kind of visual surveillance and the “extraterritorial” quality of the produced images, a line is drawn to privacy infringement in today’s professed democracies.
The Visual Side of Privacy: State-Incriminating, Coproduced Archives
Maayan Amir is an artist and a senior lecturer in the Department of the Arts at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Her collaborative artworks with Ruti Sela have been shown internationally in exhibitions such as the Biennale of Sydney, the Istanbul Biennale, the Berlin Biennale, and the New Museum Triennial, among others. Since 2009, together with Sela, Amir has been engaged in a long-term art project, Exterritory, devoted to the exploration of extraterritoriality and its logic of representation.
Maayan Amir; The Visual Side of Privacy: State-Incriminating, Coproduced Archives. Public Culture 1 January 2020; 32 (1): 185–213. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-7816353
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