Artist to speak on Oct. 12 about ‘surveillance hysteria’ in post 9/11 world

KINGSTON- September 23, 2009- Interdisciplinary media artist, Hasan Elahi, will be the Italo Scanga visiting artist at the University of Rhode Island Kingston campus this fall.

Elahi’s talk on Oct. 12 will be held in Room 402, 5 Lippitt Road, Kingston. The talk will follow the opening reception for the exhibition, Transient Borders, which includes some of Elahi’s work. The reception will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in the in the Main Gallery of URI’s Fine Art Center, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. Both events are free and open to the public.

Elahi’s visit coincides with URI’s ongoing Honors Colloquium, Demystifying India. His unique South Asian Diaspora perspective will help shed light on some of the South Asian immigrant experience in the U. S.

Elahi, a U.S. citizen, was mistakenly listed on the terrorist watch list by the U.S. government in 2002 and was detained at the Detroit airport. The authorities suspected him of transporting explosives for al-Qaeda. After passing lie detector tests and convincing the FBI of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. He now wears a tracking bracelet and his location can always be found online, where he posts countless photographs and provides updates to the FBI of his whereabouts. Officials can go to his site, and see where he is and what he’s doing. His server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.

Elahi’s artwork is an information overload that makes a mockery of the surveillance hysteria that has existed since Sept. 11, 2001. It also questions the assumptions made of people who happen to look different but are Americans themselves. His work introduces ideas that may have never been brought to attention about the reality that some have to live in post 9/11.

Elahi is assistant professor at the CADRE Laboratory for New Media School of Art and Design, San Jose State University. He is an interdisciplinary media artist whose research interests include issues of surveillance, borders and frontiers. He has presented at the Tate Modern, Einstein Forum, and at the American Association of Artificial Intelligence. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at venues such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Sundance Film Festival, Kassel Kulturbahnhof, The Hermitage, and at the Venice Biennale. His work has been supported with significant grants from the Creative Capital Foundation and Ford Foundation/Philip Morris.

Elahi’s visit is supported by funds from the Italo Scanga Foundation and the URI Department of Art & Art History in conjunction with the URI Center for Humanities and the Honors Colloquium.

Italo Scanga was an accomplished artist who taught at a number of Universities including URI, Brown, Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of California, San Diego. His work was included in the 1983 Whitney Biennial. He won numerous awards including two National Endowment for the Arts Grants and his work is in a number of prestigious collections including the Fogg Museum, Guggenhiem Museum, MOMA and the RISD Museum. The Foundations support of the visiting artist series reflects his commitment to the arts in education.

For more information on the Italo Scanga Visiting Artist Program or to receive emails about future presentations contact Professor Annu Palakunnathu Matthew by email,