The Inverse Surveillance Project takes its name from the concept of citizen under-sight, an action undertaken by the subjects of surveillance, of the systems of surveillance.

It is an art project co-created with the Arab and Muslim American communities in Chicago, which seeks to build power and co-create new narratives of our American Muslim experience through the creation of a site-specific, AR-fueled, immersive community archive.

The Installation

The installation will take the shape of a full-scale labyrinth, containing more than 33,000 pages of FOIA documents collected during a decade of FBI surveillance of the community. Augmented reality is the catalyst that triggers the community archive within the labyrinth and gives access to the community’s collective memory— in the form of family home videos and photographs — hidden in between the redacted spaces of the government’s official record. Designed as AR for a mobile device, the project repurposes a familiar surveillance tool and invites participants on an immersive journey through a labyrinth of state narratives, community memory and the formation of a counter narrative.

Explore Project

Community Art Studio

The Community Art Studio will be a place for our community to gather, create art, and imagine a world beyond surveillance and without raciliatized trauma—the pop-up studio will be open in Bridgeview, IL from June 15 - July 9 2022. Our intention is to reimagine how we react and respond to and process the trauma of surveillance in meaningful, culturally relevant and imaginative ways.

We invite our community to join Embroidery 101 classes every Tuesday-Saturday, Arts and Power building workshops every Wednesday, and Community Healing Workshops every Saturday. Every workshop is meant to offer different mediums that can offer us a path to healing from the violence of state sponsored trauma in community

See Classes and Workshops

Co-Creation Process

“The opposite of surveillance is not privacy… its community.”

— Deepa Kumar

This project includes designing a co-creation process with Chicagoland Arab and Muslim communities. The core of this project is developing a new arts-based model to address trauma from state surveillance and facilitate healing and care for our community, as a tool for liberation and power building. In cultivating intergenerational and interracial spaces to connect our histories to our present and ongoing conditions of surveillance, this project will work towards breaking barriers of class, race, age, and gender within our vastly diverse Muslim communities and in its place build shared experiences that begin to weave our communities forward together.

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