Thursday, February 24, 2005


To laugh or to cry?

In Cincinnati, we apparently have a case of art imitating life imitating art. First, we apologize that this is somewhat old news by now, but this absurdity over the seizure of satirical passports that were to be used in a Cincinnati art show - seized in the name of homeland security - is worth noting. Thanks to Brian for alerting us to this.

From the Enquirer:
Fake passports for the fictional State of Sabotage were to be issued last Friday night at the Contemporary Arts Center during the opening of its new exhibit "Incorporated."

Instead, the 33 passports were confiscated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Detroit en route to the show.

Robert Jelinek, the Austrian artist who is leader of the art group Sabotage, did not discover the items were missing from his luggage until it turned up Thursday, a day after his arrival here. Buried inside the luggage was a folded receipt from U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the missing items, which also included: seventy-seven brochures produced by the CAC and Sabotage, a container of glue, two ink pads, four "State of Sabotage" stamps, a camera and a bottle of Sabotage perfume called "Cash."
Jelinek is kind of a conceptual artist and part of a collective that works in visual and music arts that revolves around a "State of Sabotage" theme. According to the SOS website, "'Sabotage' in this sense means the braking of conventions, the artistic interruption of processes of thinking and manipulational transfer."

On one hand, the seizure is so far over the top that it could only have come from the Bush administration. If this is what Homeland Security is worried about, we are in deep, deep shit. Customs/Homeland Security officials tried to invoke a law banning "immoral materials" that include "any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, advertisement, circular, print, picture, or drawing containing any matter advocating or urging treason or insurrection against the United States." Apparently after realizing how foolish they looked, federal officials said they would return the "passports" and other materials taken.

One the other hand, we suspect that Jelinek knows he couldn't have planned a better outcome and the whole affair proved the point of the exhibit. As a matter of fact, the Customs receipt and a statement from Jelinek on the matter are now part of his exhibit


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