For her latest exhibition at The Andrea Rosen Gallery Julia Scher presents Security By Julia XLV: Security Landscapes, a large-scale installation comprised of "security blankets", surveillance equipment and high-tech plastics. Transforming the gallery space into an environment full of poly-symbolic objects Scher combines the innocence of traditional baby items with the ominous sounds of helicopters hovering overhead, intrusive high-tech lighting, and cold, invasive surveillance gear.
As Luke Phelan writes, "the space brings together elements that are not simply ambivalent, but multivalent, both protective and threatening: fencing to shield and enclose, helicopters to spy and patrol, security blankets suggestive of missiles and video surveillance technology to flatter and peer."
The soundtrack, a whir of a helicopter hovering, infused with the polite instructions of an unseen commander, heightens the attraction and repulsion that Scher's setting provokes. By bringing these elements together the artist suggests that the pervasive and ubiquitous obsession with over-the-top surveillance in our society, like the baby blanket, is a crutch, a futile childhood fantasy of protection from outside evils; yet, it is an object that is always there, always present with us.
Conflict and contradiction are at the heart of this piece that is comprised of various opposing forces where child-like innocence is contrasted with the dangers of unseen or perceived threats. With this installation, Scher continues her decades long critique and ironic commentary on the empty promises of security.
The Security By Julia series, which began in 1988, uses public space to question the invasion of personal freedom within the public realm. Through this sustained engagement with surveillance culture since the mid-1980s, Scher has used the tools of the electronic age to critically engage it. Her environments continue to provoke questions and offer critical meditations on our state of human existence. As we continue to debate the extension of the state's probing powers in light of recent events, it is to Scher's prescient and foreboding landscapes that we can turn to contemplate our heightened state of security and how it fails.
We are also delighted to announce the publication of two new books on Julia Scher's work.
Julia Scher – Tell Me When You're Ready, Works 1990-1995, PFM publishers, introduction by Anna Indych
Always There, Lukas & Sternberg Publishers, edited by Caroline Schneider and Brian Wallis