Secret Files: Bureaucracy in Action:
An Installation by Patrick Graves

Contact: Terry Glispin

April 27, 2002 through June 1, 2002
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 27, 7:00 to 9:00 PM

The Fugitive Art Center presents Secret Files: Bureaucracy in Action an installation by Patrick Graves.The installation points to a "time in our country’s history... when government entities maintained secret files on political activists and others suspected of being communists or anarchists". Graves uses the aging bureaucratic icon of the filing cabinet to reference the liminal status of archived information. He replaces the textual information usually stored in the cabinets with portraits of individuals, recalling for us that the files of the FBI contain information about people that is recorded in a manner that both decontextualizes and dehumanizes the subject. In doing so the cabinet drawers also become a morgue, a storehouse of incomplete people from which we can find a sympathetic commonality.

Patrick Graves is currently an MFA degree candidate at the University of Memphis. He has exhibited in San Francisco, Illinois, and extensively in Tennessee.

"With the proliferation of computers, filing cabinets have all but disappeared from daily use. Yet, in many cases their aging contents remain locked in a sort of limbo. These containers are a reflection of our lack of respect for the past, as well as the men and women who were there. What are files but bits and pieces of information about human beings and their activities? But what do the
materials in a file really tell about a person? The contrast to the files in today's world is that our population is probably the most traceable in history. It's not far fetched to think that the government has a secret file somewhere detailing your life, activities and personality traits. Any time you scan a credit card, touch something, answer the phone, etc. you leave behind a trace of yourself that is available for documentation.

Viewing the images of people captured in beeswax makes one feel like a voyeur. The containers seem almost like coffins. Even in death, one must be led through the system of bureaucracy: Forms must be filled out, agencies must be notified and the ritual of burial must be fulfilled. In the end, we are all filed away." - Patrick Graves