State of Tyranny
29. March 2019
All photographs by John Hill/World-Architects
State of Tyranny, a new exhibition at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York City, displays numerous "methods and tools of urban design that seek to disable public agency in the name of public safety." Based on research conducted by Theo Deutinger, the exhibition also includes walking tours through Lower Manhattan's "Tyranny Trail."
Opening last night, State of Tyranny is an extension of Deutinger's 2018 book Handbook of Tyranny, which graphically describes the "routine cruelties of the twenty-first century" through hundreds of illustrations, many of them architectural. While the book is international in scope, the exhibition and walking tours hone in on New York City, parts of which have become heavily fortified in the decade and a half since September 11. Not surprisingly, the Tyranny Trail walk starts at the Storefront and ends in the middle of the World Trade Center site.
Below are some photos and commentary from a peek at State of Tyranny, which is on display at the Storefront for Art and Architecture (97 Kenmare Street) until May 4, 2019.
Like other exhibitions at the Storefront, State of Tyranny boldly makes itself known to passersby. Large red letters, echoing the design of Deutinger's book published by Lars Müller, are accompanied by horizontal lines that attempt to add some controlled order to the hinged facade designed by Steven Holl and Vito Acconci.
The exterior's graphic design is carried through, to a smaller extent, inside, where red text signals the "seven categories of control and design" and describes the various objects "used in the service of power."
Many of the artifacts are familiar to residents of New York City and other cities, such as the metal clips and inserts that deter skateboarders from grinding on benches or railings (seen here below razor wire and other aggressive parts of "defensive cities").
Even as many of the pieces are familiar, some are unexpected — all are worth reading about, since Deutinger and his team explicate and illuminate features usually taken for granted or not considered in depth.
While vegetation may seem un-tyrannical, the exhibition reveals how some plants are used to deter certain animals, for instance, and how cameras can be hidden in fake rocks for obtrusive surveillance.
Every piece in the exhibition comes with a short description that also includes a price: the tyrannical city is about consumption, not just power. Need to deter people tagging your storefront? There's a product for that!
Handbook of Tyranny
21 × 29,7 cm, 8 ¼ × 11 ¾ in
Lars Müller Publishers
Purchase this book