Uncovering the tactics of intelligence agencies and commenting on surveillance in the modern world are just some of the themes of an exhibition by a lecturer from Sheffield Hallam.

 Investigatory Power brings together photographic work captured in the UK Houses of Parliament with video footage and imagery selected from the film and video archive of the Stasi – the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

The exhibition, curated by Mareike Spendel at the Decad art space in Berlin, focuses on ideas and findings that formed part of the Rose Butler’s doctoral study – a senior lecturer in the University’s Fine Art department.

Rose said: “I wanted to show how the methods, technologies and techniques of the Stasi are in many ways mirrored in new UK surveillance legislation; in particular the Investigatory Powers Act (2016), otherwise known as the ‘Snoopers Charter’, that significantly extended digital surveillance capabilities of UK state agencies.”

“This act of law forms the legal basis for digital surveillance in the UK – the most widely surveilled democratic state in the western world.”

The exhibition is being held in Berlin to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A key feature of the exhibition are three large serial photographic prints which are the results of experiments with a 1960s Minox miniature camera, once a popular device for espionage used on both sides of the iron curtain.

They include images taken in secret inside the Houses of Parliament, where Butler witnessed the debates that preceded the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act over eight months in 2016.

Another central piece in the exhibition is a three hour video of a surveillance operation covering a public protest on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz on the 7th of September 1989, held in opposition to rigged election results from earlier in that year.

Using footage from six different hidden cameras, operated by Stasi agents, Rose has reconstructed the surveillance operation to create a panoptical view of the events of that afternoon.

Rose will be presenting her work on Thursday 14 November at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool as part of Look Photo Biennial. You can find out more about the event here.

The exhibition runs in Berlin until 4 January 2020.

Rose has also just been awarded Arts Council England funding to develop new work for an exhibition in Cyprus 2020.

The project will see her collaborate with artist Kypros Kyprianou and fellow Hallam lecturer Jeremy Lee.

1980s MfS hidden camera surveillance of a dissident, Berlin (2019)