Homo Sacer, 2014

James Bridle
Homo Sacer, 2014
Digital video (looped), wooden stand, plexiglass screen; 7 minutes 5 seconds,180 x 50 x 50 cm
Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020
Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic


James Bridle is an artist, writer, publisher and a technologist who uses both online and offline platforms, including software, social media, photography, installation and writing, to examine the effect of technology on culture and the ways in which it reproduces and reshapes political power in our current time. 

Homo Sacer (2014) sheds light on agreements and treaties under British and international law, the UN Charter, and written and spoken statements by the British government. These documents discuss the notion of citizenship, the right of belonging and circumstances in which this right can be revoked. 

The title of Bridle’s work is inspired by the ancient Roman legal term homo sacer (Latin for ‘accursed man’), referring to a person who has been banished from society and may be killed by anyone. In the installation, a virtual assistant, designed to inform and instruct, delivers a number of legal statements to create a situation in which a citizen of the state may be legally killed. The statements revoke citizenship, rendering the person stateless and taking away all the protections a modern nation affords. Like the stateless person, viewers of this work also face the hologram assistant, which lifelessly delivers the verdict and deprives them of the ability to reply or debate.

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