Rose Butler: Investigatory Power to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin Wall

Investigatory Power curated by Mareike Spendel brings together photographic work captured in the UK Houses of of Parliament with video footage and imagery selected from the Stasi Records Agency film and video archive. The exhibition runs in Berlin until 4 January 2020 and coincides with 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th November 2019.

As part of her doctoral study at Sheffield Hallam University, which centres on surveillance, Butler considers the ethics and politics of ‘looking’ through arts practice. The methods, technologies and techniques of the Stasi – to date the only intelligence agency whose activities have been made publicly accessible – are held as a mirror to new UK surveillance legislation. The Investigatory Powers Act (2016), aka ‘The Snoopers Charter’, significantly extends the UK state agencies’ digital surveillance capabilities. The presentation of her research coincides this autumn with the commemoration of the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany which marked the end of the Cold War, and the (latest) Brexit deadline (the withdrawal of the UK from the EU).

Selected video materials from the Stasi Records Agency’s archive include the artist’s three-hour video edit of a surveillance operation covering a public protest on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz on the 7th of September 1989, held in opposition to the rigged election results (May 1989). Stasi agents had recorded the protest with at least six different hidden cameras, which Butler ‘reverse edited’, remapping the time code of the cameras back to real time by replacing sections where the camera had been paused with black gaps. She then synchronised all six cameras so as to reconstruct a panoptical view of the order of events that afternoon.

The resulting exhibition is a thought provoking installation that combines photography and video and presents a contemporary commentary on issues of freedom of movement, surveillance and data collection and political propaganda.

Read more about this exhibition on Rose Butler’s website:

Rose will present her work Thursday 14th November at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool as part of Look Photo Biennial:

Rose Butler: Investigatory Power
Saturday 2 November 2019 to Saturday 4 January 2020
Opening times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2-7pm
Decad, Gneisenaustrasse 52, 10961 Berlin, U7 Sudstern

Image: 1980s MfS hidden camera surveillance of a dissident, Berlin, 2019


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