Garrick Imitani and Kaia Sand: The Watcher Files, 2013-2015. Portland, Oregon: Regional Arts & Culture Council, 2013-2015.
Working with City of Portland Archives & Records Center files known as “The Watcher Files,” a set of police surveillance files of activists and civic groups from the 1960s through the 1980s, Imatani and Sand created a series of artistic and literary interventions that serve as an addendum to the original files. They responded not only to the documents, but also to the archival materials themselves, such as cabinets, binders, folders, and index cards, which inform the sculptural objects and printed material created through the residency. Pull out cabinet drawers to discover framed photography and graphite drawings. Thumb through copper index cards to read a poem. Multi-colored plexi-glass march routes sit atop the cases & bring them to life in a dramatically visible way.
The artists’ work emerged from two threads of inquiry, “Where is anonymity within a public document?” and “Passing It On.” Surveillance creates a bright threat of attention on private lives. But how is this attention blurred? How might someone’s identity masquerade inside these files? Imatani explored the paradox of anonymity within public documents through photography and graphite drawings housed in a sculptural cabinet inscribed with language. Sand’s exploration took the form of poems embroidered into black textile panels.
Working with several people who participated in decades of activism and civic engagement, Imatani and Sand considered some of what they continue to pass along-programs created, destruction prevented, enduring concerns, and in particular, books they read. In particular, this exhibit launches an ongoing activist bookshelf project, presenting sculptural bookshelves comprised of book selections by Kent Ford, Lloyd Marbet and Joanne Oleksiak. We borrowed the title from Ford’s description of sharing books: “I kept passing it on, passing it on to all my friends.”
Courtesy of Regional Arts & Culture Council Intersections/ Artist Residencies Program. © the Artist.
Artist Credit: Garrick Imitani, Kaia Sand
Exhibition: Regional Arts & Culture Council Intersections/ Artist Residencies Program; Garrick Imitani and Kaia Sand: The Watcher Files, 2013-2015