Hasan Elahi

C. Grimaldis Gallery
523 North Charles Street
May 19, 2016–June 25, 2016

Hasan Elahi, Stay v3 (detail), 2016, bed, 22 photographic pigment prints, dimensions variable.

In 2002, Hasan Elahi became the subject of an FBI investigation. After six months, he was cleared. Since then, he has continued to share his activities with the FBI as well as the public, ostensibly working through the trauma of the investigation while, in the process, creating a continuous alibi and a prolonged satire of surveillance. In this solo exhibition, titled “Datamine,” tens of thousands of photographs document and abstract his choices of food and diet beverages; the toilets he’s used and the planes he’s boarded; the stairs he’s climbed and the plazas he’s visited. And so many photographed signs—one, for instance, that reads: “Do not use coat hook during take off and landing.”

The twenty-four-by-eight-foot Prism v2 (all works cited, 2016) incorporates thousands of these images, each one about a half inch square, stacked up in columns. The most effective part of the exhibition, though, is the grouping of Stay v3 and Peak v3. Stay v3 features a rumpled, unmade bed surrounded by grids of framed pictures depicting similar beds. It faces Peak v3, an arrangement of window-like monitors that show images of high-tech government tracking equipment rudely interrupting a Hawaiian vista. Elahi’s exhibition deconstructs routine experience and renders it absurd, while masochistically deriding a government that watches for the sake of watching, observing nothing.

Marcus Civin