Fellow: Awarded 2016
Field of Study: Photography
Competition: US & Canada
Hasan Elahi is an interdisciplinary artist working with issues in surveillance, privacy, migration, citizenship, tech- nology, and the challenges of borders. An erroneous tip called into law enforcement authorities in 2002 subjected Elahi to an intensive investigation by the FBI and after undergoing months of interrogations, he was finally cleared of suspicions. After this harrowing experience, Elahi conceived “Tracking Transience” and opened just about every aspect of his life to the public. Predating the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program by half a decade, the project questions the consequences of living under constant surveillance and continuously generates databases of imag- ery that tracks the artist and his points of transit in real-time. Although initially created for his FBI agent, the public can also monitor the artist’s communication records, banking transactions, and transportation logs along with various intelligence and government agencies who have been confirmed visiting his website.
Elahi’s work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at venues such as SITE Santa Fe, Centre Georges Pompidou, Sundance Film Festival, and at the Venice Biennale. Elahi has spoken to audiences as diverse as the Tate Modern, American Association of Artificial Intelligence, International Association of Privacy Professionals, TED Global, and the World Economic Forum. His work is frequently in the media and has appeared on Al Jazeera, Fox News, and on The Colbert Report. In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016, his awards include grants from the Creative Capital Foundation in 2006 and Art Matters Foundation in 2011. In 2014, he was Artist-in-Res- idence at Shangri-La/Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and in 2009, Resident Faculty at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is currently Associate Professor of Art at University of Maryland, roughly equidistant from the CIA, FBI, and NSA headquarters.
Photograph credit: E Brady Robinson