msdm a nomadic house-studio-gallery for photographic art and curatorial research, an expanded practice of the artist's book, photobook publishing and peer-to-peer collaboration created by contemporary artist paula roush



Sara Raza reflects on Bowville
for The KISSS Project: Kinship International
Strategy on Surveillance and Suppression
Elastic residence, London
[see ESSAY here]

International artists such as Bangladeshi-American Hasan Elahi and London based Portuguese artist paula roush have been pushing the boundaries between fixed definitions of technology and art by creating tracking/ tagging devices, that bear an uncanny resemblance to the mandatory “bracelets” worn by high risk criminals or those on parole so that law enforcement officers can keep track of their whereabouts.

roush has created a semi fictional alter-ego Marion Manesta Forrester, who first surfaced at London’s Bow Festival in 2004. Manesta Forrester was electronically tagged and was given a period of three days to earn her citizenship to Bowville. Bowville functioned as a fictional urban cityscape whose inhabitants were actively invited to partake in the countdown by voting for or against the protagonist. The networked performance undoubtedly resembled the reality television show “Big Brother,” which created quite an addictive storm in the UK, where 10 housemates lived in the same house and members of the public weekly eliminated a member until there was only one: the winner.

Simultaneously, the piece also referred to the real and actual notion of elimination and in-voluntary deportation of immigrants, asylum seekers and political refugees. Furthermore, the fact that the performance was staged for an urban setting additionally gave voice to the city as a site of investigation, which is an on going theme interwoven into roush’s practice whereby, she actively works with the dual concept of politics and public space.
Incidentally, this practice is based on a long series of performative works that examine the notion of emergency, public time and space and is a continuation of the “Exercise SOS: OK (save our souls: zero killings),”
2004 an ongoing project that looks at decontamination and consumption as politically charged armaments against institutional power formations.

Ultimately, roush’s strategies re-appropriate the strategies of 1970s feminist artists, however, roush’s version has traded the issue of housework with security work. Nonetheless, the body under siege remains a feature from which one is able to trace a lineage with roush’s feminist predecessors.


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