Ariella Azoulay

  • A CIVIL STATE OF EMERGENCY

    CITIZEN

    The man sleeping in a public park in Jeff Wall’s Citizen, 1996, represents an act of criticism, a transgression of borders, an inspiring example of both potential and practical citizenship. Ever since seeing Wall’s photograph at Documenta 10 in 1997, whenever I see anyone asleep in a public park—whether someone homeless or someone, like the man in this image, who looks like he or she has a home to go to—I cannot help thinking of him or her as claiming a share in a public space. And if citizens can assert their right to sleep in public, they can also rebel against a sign prohibiting