In a surveillance state, the government engages in pervasive surveillance of its citizens and visitors to identify problems, to head off potential threats, to administer and to deliver social services.

Worldwide, the amount of data is growing by 61% per year and it is expected to reach 175 zettabytes (or 175 trillion gigabytes) by 2025, more than five times the amount of data produced in 2018.

By 2025, 75% of the population will be connected, creating and interacting with data. (1)

When the Berlin Wall crumbled three decades ago, there were only 15 border walls in the world. Today there are 70, with 7 more proposed or in progress. (2)

HOMELAND was an exhibition that took its lead from Berlin Lights (1994) by Hermann Pitz (Oldenburg, Germany, 1956), a ready-made installation composed of seven functioning lights from the Berlin Wall, loaned from Collezione La Gaia.

The project wanted reflect on the physical, rhetorical and ideological impact of borders and the growing pervasiveness and sophistication of the systems put in place to monitor, surveil, and control the movement of people, goods, and information.

Hermann Pitz, Berlin Lights, 1994.
Collezione La Gaia, Busca. Ph: Nicola Gnesi

A program of film and video screenings selected by Ordet’s development committee members, curators and artists, accompanied the installation: these works explore notions of borders, surveillance, technology, information and data mining, alongside the political, social and personal implications of such infrastructures.

The program featured works by Yuri Ancarani, James Bridle, Simon Denny, Mohammad Eltayyeb, Harun Farocki, Michael Klier, Lydia Ourahmane, Jon Rafman, Hito Steyerl, Surveillance Camera Players, James T. Hong, Amalia Ulman, Xu Zhen, and Andrea Zittel.

Simon Denny, Real Mass Entrepreneurship, 2017. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York; T293, Rome; Petzel, New York; Michael Lett, Auckland; Fine Arts, Sydney; Altman Siegel, San Francisco

HOMELAND also presented We all saw this coming, a glimpse of the holdings of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). The display — curated by CCA — suggested an exploration of seminal investigations on the development of city control technologies combining studies on TV security cameras to be used on construction site by architect Cedric Price (1971), and a series of New York maps produced by Surveillance Camera Players at the end of the 1990s that were included in the exhibition Actions — What you can do with the city (2008). The city of New York — and specifically Times Square — represents one of the first public spaces in the world to have adopted massive use of surveillance cameras to reduce crime rate. We all saw this coming.

We all saw this coming, exhibition view, Ordet, Milan.
Ph. Nicola Gnesi
Surveillance Camera Players, George Orwell's 1984, 1998. Courtesy the artists. Ph. Nicola Gnesi

(1) IDC's “Data Age 2025” White Paper, 2018
(2) Elisabeth Vallet, Borders, Fences and Walls (London: Routledge, 2018)


HOMELAND. A brief survey on control (and rebellion) through fax machines, the very beginning of the internet, and George Orwell.

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