|Alma mater||School of the Art Institute of Chicago;
University of California at Berkeley
Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said that Paglen, whose "ongoing grand project [is] the murky world of global state surveillance and the ethics of drone warfare", "is one of the most conceptually adventurous political artists working today, and has collaborated with scientists and human rights activists on his always ambitious multimedia projects."
In 2016 he won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.
Life and work
Paglen holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where he currently works as a researcher.
Paglen has published a number of books. Torture Taxi (2006), (co-authored with investigative journalist Adam Clay Thompson) was the first book to comprehensively describe the CIA's extraordinary rendition program. I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me (2007), is a look at the world of black projects through unit patches and memorabilia created for top-secret programs. Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World (2009) is a broader look at secrecy in the United States. The Last Pictures (2012) is a collection of 100 images to be placed on permanent media and launched into space on EchoStar XVI, as a repository available for future civilizations (alien or human) to find.
Sean O'Hagan, writing in The Guardian, said that Paglen, whose "ongoing grand project [is] the murky world of global state surveillance and the ethics of drone warfare", "is one of the most conceptually adventurous political artists working today, and has collaborated with scientists and human rights activists on his always ambitious multimedia projects." His visual work such as his "Limit Telephotography" and "The Other Night Sky" series have received widespread attention for both his technical innovations and for his conceptual project that involves simultaneously making and negating documentary-style truth-claims.
He was an Eyebeam Commissioned Artist in 2007.
Paglen is featured in the nerd culture documentary Traceroute.
Publications by Paglen
- I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing. 2007. ISBN 1-933633-32-8.
- Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World. New York: Dutton. 2009. ISBN 9781101011492.
- Invisible: Covert Operations and Classified Landscapes, Photographs by Trevor Paglen. New York: Aperture Foundation, 2010. ISBN 9781597111300. with an essay by Rebecca Solnit.
- The Last Pictures. University of California Press. 2012. ISBN 9780520275003.
Publications paired with others
- Torture Taxi. Co-authored with Adam Clay Thompson. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-933633-09-3.
- Icon, 2007. ISBN 9781840468304.
Publications with contributions by Paglen
- Experimental Geography - Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2009. ISBN 978-0091636586. Edited by Nato Thompson. With essays by Paglen, Thompson, and Jeffrey Kastner.
- Trevor Paglen and Jacob Appelbaum - Autonomy Cube. Revolver, 2016. ISBN 978-3957633026. Essays by Luke Skrebowski and Keller Easterling on Autonomy Cube, a piece of sculpture by Paglen and Jacob Appelbaum. In English and German.
Paglen has shown photography and other visual works.
- Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts
- Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art, Medzilaborce, Slovakia
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
- Bellwether Gallery, New York, November–December 2006.
- Still Revolution: Suspended in Time, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, May–June 2009. Group exhibition with Paglen, Barbara Astman, Walead Beshty, Mat Collishaw, Stan Douglas, Idris Khan, Martha Rosler, and Mikhael Subotzky.
- Geographies of Seeing, Lighthouse, Brighton, England, October–November 2012
- Trevor Paglen, Altman Siegel gallery, San Francisco, CA, March–May 2015
- Autonomy Cube, Edith-Russ-Haus, Oldenburg, Germany, October 2015 – January 2016. Sculpture by Paglen and Jacob Appelbaum.
- Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016, The Photographers' Gallery, London, April–July 2016. Deutsche Börse Photography Prize shortlist with Paglen, Erik Kessels, Laura El-Tantawy, and Tobias Zielony.
Paglen is credited with coining the term "Experimental Geography" to describe practices coupling experimental cultural production and art-making with ideas from critical human geography about the production of space, materialism, and praxis. The 2009 book Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism is largely inspired by Paglen's work.
Paglen's work is held in the following public collections:
- Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield, Virginia
- Nato Thompson (ed). Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism (Melville House Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-0-09-163658-6
- Perini, Julie (2010). "Art as Intervention: A Guide to Today's Radical Art Practices". In Team Colors Collective. Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. AK Press. ISBN 9781849350167.
- Gamerman, Ellen (12 September 2013). "The Fine Art of Spying". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- O'Hagan, Sean (5 November 2015). "Deutsche Börse photography prize shortlist: drones v the women of Tahrir". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- Logos offer a guide to secret military programs, International Herald Tribune, April 2, 2008.
- Paglen, Trevor "Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon's Secret World" New York: Dutton, 2009
- Keenan, Tom. "Disappearances: The Photographs of Trevor Paglen" Aperture, No. 191. Summer 2008
- Trevor Paglen show at Bellwether Gallery in 2006
- "Still Revolution: Suspended in Time". Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. 28 April 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
- Trevor Paglen show at Lighthouse in 2012
- O'Hagan, Sean (16 August 2012). "Political, provocative, personal: photography to look forward to". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Nato Thompson interview in The Nation
- Violet Bramley, Ellie (5 November 2015). "Trevor Paglen's drone photography wins 2016 Deutsche Börse prize". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
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