Shades of Absence (2011)

In these "pavilions of absence," images of contemporary artists whose works have been censored are reduced to gold silhouettes and placed in the midst of terms of transgression. Each erased silhouette stands for countless unknown or lesser known artists who face censorship or persecution with no public support. The artworks are placed via geolocative augmented reality as virtual memorials to artists who have suffered under censorship.

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Censorship tries to condemn artists and their artworks to absence and invisibility. In cases that attract widespread public notice, artists can actually gain prominence when their works are censored. In the majority of cases however both the artists and their work disappear soundlessly from the public discourse, with artists fearing negative consequences if they challenge the censors.

"Shades of Absence" uses the characteristics of geoloctive augmented reality (AR) to penetrate walls and invade protected spaces, and manifest its presence at a site that gives the work added meaning. Viewers can touch the work on the display of their own smartphones to see information on these censored artists.

"Shades of Absence" premiered in an intervention into the 2011 Venice Biennale with three works: "Public Voids" (on public art, in Piazza San Marco), "Inside Outside" (on artists threatened with physical violence or arrest, in the Venice Giardini), and "Schlingensief Gilded" (in the German Pavilion, as part of the memorial exhibit to Christian Schlingensief).

A fourth work, "Governing Bodies," (on artists censored due to pressure from high US government officials), was created for the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design in Washington DC. It is geolocated in the Corcoran Gallery, the U.S. Capitol Building and the offices of the National Endowment for the Arts in the Old Post Office Pavilion. A copy of this work is also geolocated in the New Museum, New York as an intervention in homage to the NEA 4 as part of the exhibit “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.”

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