The project deals with security guards and how the booming sector of private security brings the conditions of new and precarious labour to the forefront. By taking the presence of guards in cities for granted, the contradictions and hardships of these kinds of jobs remain invisible. Critical questioning regarding exploitation on the labour market is needed to reformulate demands for solidarity.
The critical theorist Franco Berardi notes that the era of "Semio-Capital" primarily produces commodities in the form of signs and symbols. Security guards offer a symbolic service in that sense by embodying security, order and authority through their mere physical presence. By carrying these symbols, the excessive focus on the body becomes apparent. The guards themselves become commodified to sell the image of security. By looking very closely, the project "SecuriWas?" wants to disentangle the interrelations of security and power. An exhbition and performance took place in Kunsthaus Vienna Garage from the 29th of May until the 1st of June. Three photo series, showing the body language and uniform of security guards in a neutral setting, were exhibited in the format of postcards. They revealed the tensions between reality and expectations in a struggle to uphold an image of security. The seemingly homogenous imagery was counterbalanced by personal statements of security guards. An exhibited audio priece played synchronised, real time activity protocols from observations of three guards. The audible gaps corresponded with the breaks in observable activity.
An accompanying performance mirrored the process of commodification of labour analyzed in the project. It compelled the public to engage in the commodification of security guards in the most familiar manner possible: by buying postcards in a museum. The action of buying postcards as "performance" alludes to the presentation of art into the ordinary routines of daily life. What is it that I am buying? Is it art... a postcard... a security guard? By blurring the boundaries between commodity, art and security guards, ambiguity and uncertainty arises in an attempt to challenge our notion of consumption and its ethics.
- Miriam Hübl
- Virginia Lui