Installed at the 2015 Art Souterrain festival, New Masters features images of pixilated space aliens inscribed in coloured vinyl on two different staircases in Montreal’s underground city (“Souterrain”). For many of us, aliens like these, redolent of the popular 1980s video game Space Invaders, once encapsulated the threat of nuclear annihilation: a caricatured yet imminent alien menace that would descend from above, visiting certain doom.
With the end of the Cold War, the nuclear threat has receded into the background, yet the caricatured alien menace endures: one day Saddam … the next, Al-Qaeda … today, ISIS and the “homegrown terrorist.” Alien menace has become part of our everyday political terrain.
Most days, the Souterrain bustles with the workaday crowd—assistants, executives, couriers, workers—intent upon errands and destinations. Few pause to consider the formidable hierarchies of power stacked about them and how the sense of alien menace is deployed in the service of such powers. While we strive and struggle, the edifice of a security state is quietly built up around us.
Installation on staircase (Place de la Cité Internationale)
Installation on staircase (Place-Ville-Marie, near Eaton Centre)
© 2015–2017 by Edwin Janzen. All rights reserved.