"The New Normal"

Artists look at privacy information as both raw material and subject matter

The word privacy doesn't appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. Oops! But even if the founding fathers had thought to mention the right to privacy, they never could have foreseen today's perfect storm, the confluence of new technology with homeland security concerns, which makes privacy iffy at best. The situation prompted "The New Normal," a collection of new artwork that uses private information as both raw material and the subject matter. (The exhibit takes its name from a Dick Cheney quote, when he said camera surveillance, passenger searches and search-term monitoring online are "the new normal.")

One participating artist is Hasan Elahi, an American artist who was reported to officials as a suspected terrorist. Ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing after an intense half-year-long investigation, Elahi responded with a Web site that records his every move, including his geographical location, credit card transactions and a log of his telephone calls. Elahi calls the project, which is, in essence, a digital alibi should he ever be investigated again, "aggressive compliance." Other artists include American Jill Magid, who became friendly with a New York City transit officer who spends his workday watching subway surveillance monitors. She tells the story of their unlikely relationship - a conservative cop who never sleeps anywhere but his own bed, where he has a loaded weapon handy, and a liberal artist who travels the world sans weaponry - through photographs, pages from his police notebook, and a novella. The opening reception for "The New Normal" is from 6 to 8 p.m. January 15. Regular viewing hours are noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Through February 20. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. Free.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 12-6 p.m. Starts: Jan. 15. Continues through Feb. 20, 2010

 
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