“In a time that is more and more defined by mechanisms of surveillance the ‘gaze of the Big Brother’ seems ever more omnipresent,” says artist Simon Menner. “What it really is that the Big Brother sees. Can the terror such a repressive system spreads be found in these images? Or is the ‘gaze of evil’ pretty banal and we have to attach the terror ourselves?”
Mostly the results of surveillance remain hidden, he continues, but the East German Stasi were not only obsessive in their record-keeping, but are also now widely accessible since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Menner has done an incredible research job through the Stasi’s vaults and come up with this fantastic collection of images which, he says, “can broaden our understanding of the function of surveillance and repression”.
There’s all sorts of things hidden away in the pictures. Stasi agents would take polaroids of people’s flats as they (secretly) searched them, there’s a set of instructional images showing how to wear plain clothes and blend in, there’s even a great set on countersurveillance, called “spies taking pictures of spies taking pictures of spies taking pictures of spies…“‘ See the whole lot for yourself here, I’ve put some of my favourites below by way of a teaser.