How can art be used as a practical response and political statement from the exile? Artist Miyö Van Stenis investigates this question with her project »Vigipirate Quadcopter Drone« created for the Solitude & ZKM web residencies on the topic »Violent Consumer Media« curated by Dani Ploeger. Her project consists of several levels in which she takes the symbol of the Vigipirate as a starting point to question information manipulation and control. In the interview, we talked with the artist about her project for the Web Residency.
Schlosspost: Your work takes the French national security system Vigipirate as its starting point. Can you tell us more about your research into this topic and why you proposed a work about it?
Miyö Van Stenis: In 2012, Hugo Chavez passed a law that any person against the government is a »terrorist« against the homeland; for 2013, Nicolas Maduro extended this law to the cultural sector. This means, artists can be judged also as terrorists. So in this order, in 2014 I was targeted as a »terrorist«/»traitor« for my work, and I spent at least two or three years under threats.
»The terrorist attacks that have taken place in France since I have been here has been a new thing for me; it opened my eyes to see the European crystal cage and how they perceive the world outside their borders.«
After being in France, I met a new concept of terrorism. The Vigipirate alarm shocked me. The government of Venezuela publicly supported some organizations and governments that Europe targets as »terrorists,« so in this dystopian scenario I seized a symbol of the state that protects me, to denounce the state that oppresses me. My research was about becoming a political refugee. I needed it to learn a new country scheme, a new political framework, a new military system, and so on. I learned the laws that can protect me and those that can get me into trouble: for example, you need a permit to fly a drone with the features that this project holds, but doesn’t penalize you if the drone has an emergency pilot in command protocol to fly itself. This long process and overwhelming experience led me to this project; it just clicked.
Aesthetically I find the symbol of Vigipirate incredibly strong, it was something I saw everywhere and that French TV talked about for months so I was fascinated by and honestly afraid of the possibility of war between Europe and the Middle East. The terrorist attacks that have taken place in France since I have been here has been a new thing for me; it opened my eyes to see the European crystal cage and how they perceive the world outside their borders. I learned the hard way that I come from a narco-terrorist state that used violence and fear as a control mechanism; terror and killing are most likely to come from the government to the population but I didn’t know another type of system. After all this as an artist: will you go back to doing fun gif files, and cute net.art pieces?