Zone of urgency
Since 2000, the rate of incarceration in the Netherlands has declined; more and more prisons and jails have closed (some of them have even been transformed into Hotels). In 2014 the Dutch government, in agreement with the proprietor, temporarily placed 130 refugees in Jail Havenstraat (address: Havenstraat 6, 1075 Amsterdam, The Netherlands). The transformation of jails demonstrates a change in the states’ methods of governance, from disciplining bodies to surveilling them (particularly bio-data surveillance and trace technology). This surveillance regime includes passport (or any other kind of identification system), education, health management, DNA surveillance and bio-science control – these are the contemporary extension of the “carceral archipelago”(Michel Foucault).
My two-channel video “Zone of Urgency” was shot in 2014. It shows the jail in which 130 refugees lived. It looks like an empty space; this is not only a metaphor for the absence of the refugees’ human rights and political bodies, it also implies, that in the context of emerging surveillance technologies, society has become an endless jail. Moreover, the power of the state, through a variety of laws and regimes of societal control, has transformed the “state of exception” (Giorgio Agamben) into a “normal state”. Bare life is no longer a situation exclusive to refugees’; it has universally become the life of the citizen.
Two channel video, 13mins, 2014
Louis Hothothot artist, researcher, curator, art journalist, designer.
He works and lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.