For the 2004 edition of the Liverpool Biennial, Jill Magid spent 31 days developing a close relationship with Citywatch (Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council), whose function is the video surveillance of the city.
The videos of the performance were staged and edited by the artist and filmed by the police using the public surveillance cameras in the city.
Wearing a red trench coat she would call the police on duty with details of where she was and ask them to film her in particular poses, places or even guide her through the city with her eyes closed.
Unless requested as evidence, CCTV footage obtained from the system is stored for 31 days before being erased. For access to this footage, Magid had to submit 31 Subject Access Request Forms. She wrote them as though they were letters to a lover, expressing how she was feeling and what she was thinking. These letters form a little red diary One Cycle of Memory in the City of L and they are also available as emails.
The first room in the exhibition makes you feel as if you were one of the security observers. You sit down on a chair in front of the edited CCTV footage and follow the woman in her little red coat.
Two videos are projected on big screens in other rooms: Control Room shows what is seen in the eyes of the observer who is zooming in on the artist’s face or re-adjusting the image. In Final Tour Magid sits on the back of the observer’s motorbike driving in Liverpool until they vanish out of the camera’s range. You can spot the motorbike easily in the traffic thanks to the red coat of the artist. I found that one very poetic, probably because of the accompanying music: Georges Delerueâ€™s haunting soundtrack for the cult French movie Le MÃ©pris.
See also: Surveillance, Performance, Self-Surveillance. Interview with Jill Magid by Geert Lovink.
At Sparwasser HQ until April 7, 2007.