Where is the fine line between loosing and keeping your privacy? Check out Hasan Elahi’s story…

Clare Goslings post: The more I learn about art and the role of the artist, the more admiration and respect I have for all the artists out there that continue to produce work and the incredible amount of varied roles that artists have to take on to produce the work.

“Artists are increasingly  taking on new roles and skills as they participate in these fields and generating new ways of understanding what visual art can be and do. Performing the roles of curators, ethnographers, archaeologists, researchers, educators and archivists many artists today are border crossers  who use their interest in the world of ideas to enter and from a wide range of fields and practices.” (Desai, D. And Hamlin, J., 2009, P48)

I visited the exhibition in the Whitechapel gallery by Whalid Raad, and really liked the way his work invites you to look closer, drawing you in to look at what exactly are all the little pieces of documentation that he has put together. My favourite piece was a handful of images of walls and corners of the street on which had different coloured round stickers stuck all over them. At first you think what are all these stickers? And after closer inspection you discover that these stickers represent all the places in the wall or street corner where pieces of bullets were found.

The following quote discusses Raad’s work.

“The unorthodox methods of the Atlas Group disturb common notions of authenticity, veracity, neutrality and point of view in relation to the archive. Raad’s creation of a fictional archive strategically challenges the idea that primary documents, specifically video and photography exist unbiased, authentic forms of history.” (Desai, D. And Hamlin, J., 2009, P53)

Raad’s work challenges our perception of what we think about a particular historical story, and encourages the viewer to look at a part of history from all kinds of different angles.

In the same way that Raad is challenging our perceptions of historical stories – the artist Hasan Elahi is challenging the FBI’s perception of himself.



Following a freak incident where Elahi was pulled aside after a flight and was accused for storing explosives close to the date of 9/11 he has decided to publically document and publish every detail of his private life to prove to the FBI that when they are sitting in their office assuming he is out plotting a terrorist attack he is actually having a burger and fries and MacDonald’s. This documentation can be seen as an artistic exploration into the everyday details of a person’s daily life or it can be seen as a man who is so scared of being pulled aside by the FBI at any moment in time. Elahi can track that the governments office continues to monitor the details that he publishes online so he is bound to his digital camera in a state despair where he does not know what would happen to him if he doesn’t snap that photograph of that ketchup bottle. Is this a desperate man? Or is this a clever political protest? Or has his accusation become the necessary twist for him to create the ultimate documentation art project? Clare Gosling


Book: Desai, D. and Hamlin, J., 2009. Artists in the realm of Historical methods:
The Sound, Smell, and Taste of History. In: D. Desai and J. Hamlin eds
History as Art, Art as History. New York: Routledge, pp 47-66.


About Clareg

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One Response to Where is the fine line between loosing and keeping your privacy? Check out Hasan Elahi’s story…

  1. paula roush says:

    Clare, I’m glad you chose that quote from Desay & Hamlin’s essay on the multiple roles assumed by artists as it is one of my favorite and both Whalid Raad andHasan Elahi explore well this intersection between artistic, historical and political strategies that can coexist in the work of art.

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