EMILY GREENBERG

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Photos by Shailee Shah

The Fake Guardian 2013
digitally printed newspapers, edition of 75, "11 x 17"
website
single channel video, sound, 3:00
single channel projection, dimensions variable

Through fake news articles, documents, and interviews as well as a net intervention, The Fake Guardian offers a dystopian post-script to the Edward Snowden story. A satiric take on the UK newspaper that first reported the NSA leaks, the work operates somewhere between parody and conspiracy theory, between satiric alternative news outlet (The Onion, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report) and tactical media project (Zack Exley/RTMark’s GWbush.com, the Yes Men). Media theorist Boris Groys has called WikiLeaks “the first truly postmodern conspiracy” because its ideology of transparency is based on the most secretive of operations. Similarly, Edward Snowden’s own claims of democracy and transparency are undermined by actions that are highly secetive and entirely undemocratic (although pragmatically, even ethically necessary). A single person is controlling what information we are getting, which media outlets deliver it to us and when, and which parts are redacted. A single person is imposing a top-down narrative without room for dialogue. Hero or traitor, why do we believe him in the first place? With this body of work, I want viewers to question top-down narratives couched in ideologies of transparency. At the same time, I hope to create a space where new dialogues about these events can take place without the mediation of talking heads.

The video interview is based on footage from Glenn Greenwald’s interview with Edward Snowden, but I have heavily edited and spliced this footage (using techniques influenced by Omer Fast’s video work, most notably The Casting) to craft a new narrative. As in Fast’s work, I undermine the notion of documentary using documentary techniques. Here, I used video montage with sound overlay to hide my extensive edits, creating the illusion of seamless audio and revealing the ease of journalistic manipulation. By inserting myself as anonymous artist-interviewer, I subvert the authority of the talking head. In addition to the work in the gallery, fake articles and documents from the website were "leaked” via my social media accounts each day from December 16 - 20, 2013. As part of the Talking Heads show, I included a site-specific news ticker projection from a second story window, thereby inviting viewers to surveil the gallery space.

 

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