Group exhibition featuring Blue Sky Days 29 Jan. to 24 April, 2016
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
Skinker & Forsyth Boulevards
St. Louis, MO 63130
We are in the dawn of the drone age, a turning point in history when the technology of surveillance and remote engagement is changing the way we live and understand the world. Over the past decade, the United States and other countries have increasingly resorted to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially known as drones, as part of a global network of image gathering and data collection employed to monitor collective life and target individuals. As drones redefine contemporary policing and warfare, their impact is filtering into art and visual culture, generating new investigations into issues of agency, power, visibility, technology, and fear.
To See Without Being Seen: Contemporary Art and Drone Warfare presents an international array of contemporary artworks that engage with the geopolitical aspects of drone warfare and surveillance. Comprising video, sculpture, installation, photography, and web-based projects, the artworks in this exhibition raise fundamental questions about undeclared wars, increasingly invisible and seamless military technologies, undeterred surveillance, and the amassing of data. Works by Tomas van Houtryve, James Bridle, Harun Farocki, Trevor Paglen, and Hito Steyerl, among others, offer keen deliberations on these topics.
The exhibition is cocurated by Svea Bräunert, a Berlin-based scholar in media and cultural studies, and Meredith Malone, associate curator.
The morning after the November 13th terrorist attacks in Paris, I anxiously walked toward the Bataclan concert hall on boulevard Voltaire. I’d spent most of the night following the news as coordinated attacks devastated civilian targets across the French capital. It was the most violent night in Paris since WWII. As I made my way from Saint Germain, past Bastille… read more.
Group exhibition featuring Blue Sky Days, October 14 to December 9, 2015
Open Society Archives
What right do governments, corporations, and individuals have to collect and retain information on your daily communications? What tools—both today and in the past—have been used to monitor your activities? What are the immediate and far-reaching effects? These questions unite the ten bodies of work selected for the Moving Walls 22 exhibition “Watching You, Watching Me.”
This installment of OSF’s Moving Walls documentary photography series explores how photography has been used both as an instrument of surveillance and as a tool to document, expose, and challenge the impact of surveillance on civil liberties, human rights, and basic freedoms. Among the ten selected bodies of work, is Blue Sky Days.
A television interview with me on Télématin, France’s most-watched morning program, was broadcast on September 15 on the France 2 channel. The segment featured my Blue Sky Days project, which is part of the traveling World Press Photo exhibition. The photos are on display in the Azzedine Alaïa gallery in Paris through September 27.
Emission en français Live television interviews about my Blue Sky Days drone photo project were broadcast on France 24 on September 4, 2015. The interview in French was conducted by Louise Dupont, and the English segment was lead by Eve Jackson. We spoke about the rise of drones both in their military capacity and their growing popularity among law enforcement agencies. We also discussed the… read more.
Blue Sky Days solo exhibition 5 to 11 October, 2015
Official opening 9 October at 12:30
Prix Bayeux-Calvados des Correspondants de Guerre
Hotel du Doyen
In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her house. At a briefing held in 2013 in Washington, DC, the woman’s 13-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of five lawmakers. “I no longer love blue skies,” said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey.”
With my camera attached to a small drone, I traveled across America to photograph the very sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for foreign air strikes—weddings, funerals and groups of people praying or exercising. I also flew my camera over settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as prisons, oil fields, and the US-Mexico border. The images captured from the drone’s perspective engage with the changing nature of surveillance, personal privacy and war.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has acquired two large-format (100cm x 66cm) limited-edition analogue prints from my Blue Sky Days drone project for their permanent collection. Notable artists represented in the Nelson-Atkins photography collection in Kansas City, Missouri include such prominent 20th-century names as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, Charles Sheeler, André Kertész, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Harry Callahan,… read more.
The New York Times Magazine reviewed my Blue Sky Days drone project in their July 26, 2015 Sunday Magazine. The article, titled “The Unquiet Sky,” explores the beauty and menace of aerial photography. It was written by award-winning novelist and Times photography critic Teju Cole: “…The slippage between the domestic and the threatening aspects of aerial surveillance is something the photographer Tomas van… read more.
Select show venues include:
• Amsterdam, 18 April to 5 July, 2015
• Berlin, 1 to 11 September, 2015
• Edinburgh, 22 July to 22 August, 2015
• Helsinki, 21 August to 12 September, 2015
• Istanbul, 12 August to 2 September, 2015
• Madrid, 11 September to 11 October, 2015
• Mexico City, 28 August to 27 September, 2015
• Paris, 4 to 27 September, 2015
• St. Petersburg, 26 September to 28 October, 2015
• Tokyo, 27 June to 9 August, 2015
Since 2002, the US has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) to collect intelligence and carry out airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The aircraft are guided via satellite by distant operators. The attacks have resulted in a large number of fatalities, including hundreds of civilians.
The photographer bought a small drone, fitted it with a camera, and flew it in the US over the sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for airstrikes abroad—weddings, funerals, groups of people praying or exercising. He also used it to photograph settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as oil fields, prisons, and the US-Mexico border.