Leeron Tur-Kaspa: SAATA: Surveilling Art at the Airport


Advisor/tutor: Ghalya Saadawi

Arnhem, July 2019


This thesis interrogates the growing practice of exhibiting art in airports through frameworks of border and surveillance studies, as well as contemporary critical theory in art. It looks at several case studies and analyzes each on one aesthetically and ideologically. An online archive was developed to catalog visual material, indexing artworks the way surveillance methodologies index individuals inside the airport.

Five key intersecting themes are identified as framing exhibition practices inside airports: 1) “National Heritage,” exhibitions that bolster national sentiments through the presentation of historical and cultural heritage, signaling that the airport is an important national border soaked with ideology; 2) “Good Intent,” exhibitions that operate by dressing up de-politicized content founded on normative social values as political awareness projects, offsetting the constant threat of “malintent” present inside the airport; 3) “Building Sociality,” exhibitions that contribute to affect management strategies inside the airport through the use of interactive art to foster positive social interactions for the the kinetic elite; 4) “Flow and Mobility,” exhibitions that valorize movement and travel through abstract gestures; and 5) “Future Cities,” exhibitions that tie the airport to future-oriented socio-economic projects such as aerotropoli and creative cities.