Contracting the Future by Susan Kelly



Dear Sir/Madam,

It is with great shock and dismay that I hear of the closure of White Box
Gallery by the newly created Cultural Bureau of the US Department of
Homeland Security. As I understand, the exhibition that was due to open involved a rare and unique opportunity to hear a variety of voices talk about September 11th, civil liberties and the ‘war on terror’. This is
deeply worrying development and bears a frightening resemblance to what we thought were the bad old days of the cold war.

Several articles have appeared in recent days in the British Press by
American journalists. Many of these articles have pleaded to members of the British and European public to understand that 12 months on, America has learned nothing because of a lack of free press and thus any meaningful information on what is going on in other parts of the world. The articles try to explain how a corporate and lobby-interest controlled press and media industry begins to effectively feel and look like total censorship. Although the real ideological difference between Europe and the US is often exaggerated in such debates, I believe that these journalists are making an important point. The control and censorship of important public venues, exhibitions, spaces and other voices is part of US security precisely because it guarantees the administration a coherent nation, united in grief, war and most of all, blissful ignorance.

While the notion of security conjures up ideas of being care-free, free from 'risk' or anxiety, it also (in appropriately financial terms) denotes
something that is paid down, deposited or pledged to make certain a future obligation or payment of debt. The Department of Homeland Security and deplorable actions such as the closure of White Box are merely securing a state of censorship and ignorance. However, the contract into which future generations of Americans are unwittingly entering, is far from peaceful or carefree. State compliance will indeed be guaranteed but so too will the demise of any remaining semblance of democracy, debate or understanding that might eradicate the perceived necessity of such 'wars'.

This closure is but one drop in the ocean. However, it is a dangerous seed and must be challenged directly and effectively. The scale of what is required for any meaningful resistance is now vast and complex.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Kelly
Goldsmtihs College, University of London, UK


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