Security Theatre

In the past 15 years, there has been an enormous shift towards security. Severe measures are taken across all domains and at every scale, at the expense of privacy and personal freedom. Paradoxically, it seems that today the perception of security is more important than security itself. More and more frequently we visit the „security theatre“, performed in the public sphere.

The term security theatre describes the security countermeasures taken to improve the feeling of safety while doing little or nothing to actually increase security.1 Bruce Schneier coined the term in 2003 when describing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at American airports. The agency was put in place in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks to increase a airport security. In my opinion, the TSA is primarily good at performing theatre; or as Randall Ross aptly put it: „For theatre on a grand scale, you can‘t do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration.“ 2

Security is always at odds. It all revolves around providing or upholding a sense of security and thus the feeling of safety. Ultimately, I have found that most security measures possess a certain theatrical quality, and sometimes they are of purely theatrical nature. The project highlights the theatre of security. The big security theatre we are all willing to participate in; The theatre we participate in to feel safe.

 

The project was last exhibited at the Zurich University of the Arts between the 9th and 19th of June 2016.

  1. Beyond Security Theater, Bruce Schneier
  2. Theater of the Absurd at the T.S.A., Randall Stross