On Friday 28 June 2024, NOG member Rosa Wevers will defend her PhD project “Facing Surveillance: Artistic and Curatorial Strategies in Times of Control”.


Wevers’ dissertation investigates how recent contemporary art exhibitions have thematised surveillance. She analyses a corpus of exhibitions of ‘surveillance art’ that were on show in Europe between 2013 and 2023. The PhD project explores how these exhibitions develop a critical understanding of surveillance by approaching this theme in visual, affective, and medium-specific ways. From a photo series that exposes hidden surveillance systems to a colourful mask that renders the wearer unrecognisable to digital facial recognition: artists creatively shape surveillance critique. In her dissertation, Wevers traces the artistic motives and strategies that artists and curators have employed to make citizens aware of the societal impact of surveillance. The dissertation highlights a series of key exhibitions that have not yet been recognised as drivers of such critical public awareness.

While exhibitions are the most important context in which surveillance art is encountered by publics, this important interface between art and public has, thus far, received little attention in scholarly research. The dissertation demonstrates the crucial role exhibitions play in the ways in which surveillance art is experienced and made sense of. Furthermore, it identifies curators as important agents in mediating complex, abstract, scholarly surveillance critiques to non-expert publics. Through this in situ approach to surveillance art, Wevers shows how exhibitions can mobilise affective encounters between visitors and artworks that foster a visceral and embodied engagement with surveillance critique.

To investigate the visual, affective, and medium-specific ways in which exhibitions contest and reimagine surveillance, this study develops new connections and previously unexplored synergies between the scholarly fields of surveillance studies, and in particular feminist surveillance studies, curatorial studies, and theories of art and affect.

Details PhD Defense
Date: Friday, June 28, 2024
Time: 12:15-13:15h.
Location: Senate Hall, Utrecht University Hall
Title: Facing Surveillance: Artistic and Curatorial Strategies in Times of Control.
Supervisors: Prof. dr. Rosemarie Buikema, Prof. dr. Beatrice de Graaf, dr. Evelyn Wan.