2005, Art in public space
Dibond letters, 35m x 1m, A newspaper article
Developed within the frame of the project “Under the bridges along the river II”,
Casino Luxembourg-Forum d’art Contemporain, Luxembourg
It is obvious that the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers triggered a global scale shift in the political climate. The process of state structures taking advantage of the atmosphere of general paranoia tighten social surveillance and security measures despite the fact that they infringe on personal freedoms is not over yet and we are frequently subject to the ramifications of this in our daily life. At the time when this process was most discernable, Esra Ersen decided to pursue this issue in the public space exhibition she was invited to by Casino Luxembourg.
She had built a twenty meter long horizontal metal construction in a park at the city center frequently used residents and placed the sentence “There is No Demonstration in Disneyland” (2004) on the panel. The fonts, installation and lighting “recalled the Hollywood sign which had become an icon in Los Angeles. The Disneyland reference and Hollywood association functioned as an allusion to the gradually intensifying control of the culture of surveillance. Instead of the ideal of public space where people come together, share different and at times conflicting opinions regarding social life, engage in a process of negotiation, a new social vision was becoming more and more prevalent in which criticism against the existent system was rendered invisible, sometimes even perceived as a threat; people gathering in social spaces were discouraged with the fear of unexpected consequences, security forces were given boundless authority and electronic observation devices were installed everywhere.
With her ironic sentence exposing the world’s transformation into Disneyland, Ersen was problematizing the pacification methods employed to massive the surveillance network. This reconciliation model that abolished the possibility of voicing opinions, let alone their competition was also transforming the concept of the public.
What’s worse, this suspension of politicization was not merely constituted by the maneuvers of the state ideology and capitalist forces to do away with any element causing animosity, but also by the increasing reluctance of the masses to display a critical will. The entrusting of solutions to all types of problems to the social state for too long had led to the spread of the sense of conformity in economically developed societies, and thus the lack of initiative to voice contesting opinions and render them visible in the public sphere.