Proposal To US Embassy Representatives
Meeting in my studio
Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten
Sarphatistraat 470
1018GW Amsterdam

March, 2002

Proposal: STAR SPANGLED AND SECURED


PROJECT SUMMARY
#1 The Intervention
I propose to cover the housings of the already existing surveillance cameras guarding the American Embassy in Den Haag and the American Consulate in Amsterdam with red, white, and blue rhinestones.

#2 The Sculptural Installation
I propose to ADD a jeweled camera(s) to the both the security systems of the Consulate and Embassy as sculptural installation. The sites of the installations shall be determined after a tour of the buildings. I imagine that the lobby or interior entranceway would be the most suitable site. The cameras would be designed particularly to the space in terms of their patriotic color, position and level, most likely at eye level.

Motive
Surveillance cameras are intended to watch, not to be watched. They are ubiquitous, yet we hardly notice them.

By covering it in jewels, the camera becomes not only a tool of surveillance apparatus but also an object of desire. It’s function as ‘invisible eye’ (distant and cold) is disrupted. On an aesthetic level, the camera’s power to capture an image and survey a site is displaced by its new identity as architectural ornamentation.*

*Please note that the addition of jewels to the camera housing does not effect its technical function; the video image is in no way altered.
As for the newly installed cameras, I replace their omniscient point of view to one of more human proportions. At eye level, a surveillance camera cannot oversee; direct communication is forced between watcher and ‘watched’. The whole notion of security is brought down to a personal, intimate, and more confrontational level.*
*Since the function of the camera is altered in #2 a supplementary camera is used.

The Sites of the American Embassy and the American Consulate
The embassy and consulate are symbols of a multilateral American presence within Dutch political life. The buildings exist as direct links to the United States and as sites for mediation between nationalistically diverse political and social arenas. Both institutions are necessarily protected sites, guarded by hired security personal and technical security systems. The security cameras not only protect the physical buildings they guard but appear, metaphorically, to protect the American position that the institutions represent. Therefore these sites represent ideal places within which I want to work.

My Position
As an American artist working in Holland and as a Netherlands-American Foundation Fellow, I see myself in a mediating position similar- yet on a smaller and more personal scale- to that of the Embassy and consulate. I left the United States to experience another point of view and another city and to make projects within and about a European context. I choose to make work outside of traditional art institutions because of its ability to reach, and thus affect, a wider public. Due to recent political events, the notions of “security” and “national security” are discussed more than ever. Star Spangled and Secured provokes these discussions on a creative level.
By collaborating on this project, the American Embassy and American Consulate exhibit their support towards American Artists like myself in Holland and their willingness to give a place for our expressions.

The Embassy and Consulate as Models for Public Art Projects
Since the Embassy and Consulate are respected sites of power relations, their willingness to collaborate on this project sets a tone for other institutions in Holland and abroad to follow. I am proposing similar projects with security ornamentation to The Politie in Amsterdam and plan to propose the project to national museums, military depots, other consulates and embassies, etc. Initial support from the American Embassy and Consulate pave the way for other institutions to follow.

Similar Completed Project
I have completed a similar project, Security in Azure, using the two surveillance cameras at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, where I am currently an artist in residence. The success of this project inspired me to move the work out into a more public forum.


From: "TG" ---------@state.gov
To: "'jill magid'" <jillmagid<at>yahoo.com>

March 4, 2002

Subject: RE: Netherlands American Foundation fellow


Dear Jill,
I enjoyed our meeting last Thursday, although we could not be of much help to you with regards to your project.
I found T’s (SKOR) email address: -------- and perhaps he will be able to give you some practical advice. I look forward to seeing you again on March 19.
I wish you every success with Star Spangled & Secured.
TG
Public Affairs
American Embassy The Hague