The seeds of Security Blanket were stories of surveillance and harassment by governmental agencies, presented in this exhibit through audio recordings. The stories were first shared with me casually by activist friends and collaborators, then revisited in formal interviews for this installation.
The similarities between the stories prompted me to look deeper into surveillance, which gained new significance after the 2016 election. I began to ask myself, “What does it look like for a pacifist progressive to be prepared?” I also recognized the inherent psychological benefit of making physical objects. I hope that my constructions will serve my community; I know that making something by hand calms my own anxiety. The old saying is “idle hands are the devil’s plaything.” I don’t believe there is a devil, but I have seen that my own idle hands lead me to obsessively pore over Facebook and reduce my own mental resilience.
As I tried to find definitive answers to my questions about government surveillance and freedom of speech, I became more interested in this psychological response. Uncertainty can feed into fear and paranoia, becoming an effective silencing tool in its own right. What makes us feel safe? What really makes us safe?
Security Blanket is part of Art(ists) on the Verge 9, a project of NorthernLights.mn made possible through funding by the Jerome Foundation.