Home » Edmonton: Surveillance and Shopping as Art

Edmonton: Surveillance and Shopping as Art

Thomas Kneubühler: Tresspass Act
J. Stanton: Art Paraphernalia for a Modern World
Latitude 53, Edmonton
7 August – 5 September, 2009

Thomas Kneubühler, Access Denied, Le Black Jack Resto Bar (Guard#7)
Image: thomaskneubuhler.com

Kneubühler’s artist project comprises a traditional gallery show, and more interestingly, a series of large billboard-sized outdoor photographs of security guards displayed on the sides of buildings.

“North America is preoccupied with security,” says the artist: “In the gallery exhibition, we see industrial zones and office buildings, places that are deserted at night time. The viewer can peak through the windows, yet becomes a trespasser himself while being watched by security cameras and guards.”

Surveillance is a timely and interesting topic, but in this format it doesn’t really succeed as it should.

We saw his similar installation in Montreal as part of the Mois de la Photo in 2007 and the problem is that the way we relate to photographs, and billboard advertising takes away from the idea of surveillance. Surveillance is by nature spooky, you don’t know who is watching you. Showing us an image of surveillance sends us a clear message, but we don’t feel it.

Thomas Kneubühler, Access Denied, La Maison des Jeunes (Guard#8)
Image: thomaskneubuhler.com

David Rokeby, Taken, 2002. Image: mac.com/davidrokeby

The artist might have had more success with new media. VoCA favorite artist David Rokeby used surveillance cameras and live feed to link indoor and outdoor space in his 2002 work Taken. Click David Rokeby’s excellent website HERE for more on that project.

Check out Thomas Kneubuhler’s website HERE

J. Stanton
Art Paraphernalia for a Modern World

An image from Stanton’s installation. Image courtesy latitude 53

Never mind that this installation, which presents itself as a shop with artist-made objects that you can purchase for a few dollars “brings the shopping experience into the gallery itself, an action which investigates the roles of art and the gallery in society as emblems of aesthetics, design, lust, desire, and wants, apparent needs, and consumer habits,” according to the press release.

Claes Oldenburg, The Store, 1961. Image: ultrapdx.com

It’s important to note that VoCA fave Claes Oldenburg was doing this back in the 60s, and the tradition has been finessed right up to the present day with Takashi Murakami. This past June, artist John Brodie opened Store for a Month in Portland, Oregon and stocked it with art by Portland artists.

Stanton acknowledges Fluxus and N.E. Thing Co. as influences, but we wonder how exactly she is taking this idea further (and shouldn’t that be her goal?)

She says “The (art) objects…are produced for the modern world, where art, object, consumerism and society are one in the same, and they are all relatively useless and meaningless (although highly aesthetic and desired).”

But we’re not buying it.

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