STREETWISE 1 - 24 March 2002 in TENT. ROTTERDAM
Concern about the increasing use of identity based electronic information systems and the frequent use of surveillance cameras is one of the impulses for Desiree Palmen to create her work, which uses camouflage, as it's main focus. In photo works, videos and site-specific actions, she explores the possibilities of letting people 'dissolve' into their surroundings or to let them disapaer against the background. The manipulation of clothing plays a crucial role. A shirt covers the body and then extends to cover the tabletop, confusing the contour of the body of the person wearing the shirt with the table itself. In another work, a suit is painted in such a way that when the model is in a very specific position, he/she disappears into the background. Palmen then takes pictures of these situations she creates from the ideal viewing perspective for het audience. In the actual situation, if the viewer moved one step away from this ideal view, then the function of the camouflage seizes to exist.
In recent work, she looks more specifically at the social implications of surveillance as she attemps to mislead the eye of 'Big Brother'. Beginning from the perspective of police-installed cameras in so-called dangerous streets of Rotterdam, she then creates camouflage that models wear while performing actions in the street. The models become invisible for the target audience: the surveillance personnel, while also attracting the awareness of people passing by. In her photo and video work, she uses the same surveying methods of the security systems as she reveals that being visible and invisible are both aspects of the same oppressive phenomenon.
Arno van Roosmalen / Tentagenda / March 2002
Translation: Laurie Halsey Brown