Adam Harvey: Privacy Gift Shop
“The NSA declined to comment on Harvey’s work, as did the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.” ― Washington Post
The Privacy Gift Shop is a marketplace for counter-surveillance technology, privacy accessories, and new ideas about privacy. It was founded by Berlin-based American artist Adam Harvey in 2013, and since then, it has been presented as a “concept store” in many institutional venues, including The New Museum, New York, and other locations in Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Vienna, and London. It has also been discussed on magazines and newspapers, including Wired, Motherboard, and the Observer. In 2015 the Privacy Gift Shop joined NEW INC, the art+tech incubator led by the New Museum in New York City. The store is currently located in Berlin, and sells its outcomes also through an online store, available at https://privacygiftshop.com.
The project wants to “normalize otherwise controversial ideas about surveillance and encourage a critical speculative discourse about issues related to data, surveillance, and privacy.” Its products include the OFF Pocket Phone Case, which blocks wireless signals and protects your phone from stealth data; the IXNY Tee, a redesign of the iconic “I Love NY” T-shirt featuring an OCR-resistant font that makes it difficult for the NSA to decipher; the Metal Dollar Bill, a copper wallet insert that shields your credit cards from RFID skimming; and the Stealth Wear collection, a series of garments – conceived in collaboration with fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield – inspired by burkas and hijabs that shield against thermal imaging, a surveillance technology used widely by military drones to target people.
More recently, the Privacy Gift Shop launched Think Privacy (2015), a year-long art campaign conceived to raise awareness about emerging issues in the age of data collection. The campaign collects statements that are part education and part provocation, printed over coloured backgrounds reminiscent of motivational posters, and presented in various formats, including wall placards, coasters, refrigerator magnets, mugs, and other ephemera.
Creative resistance to surveillance was a topic in Adam Harvey’s research long before the Snowden revelations. In 2010 he launched CV Dazzle (also included in the show at Aksioma Project Space), a research project about creating a form of camouflage against computer vision, using haircuts and make-up to make a face unrecognizable to most surveillance algorithms. By creating and marketing relatively cheap products that follow the same approach, the Privacy Gift Shop takes a step forward, and realises the artist’s ambition “to bring privacy and counter-surveillance ideas to a wider audience and engage in discussions about how art, design, and creativity can play a role in protecting privacy.” 
In Ljubljana, the project will be displayed at Aksioma Project Space in a hybrid gallery / popup shop setup, with tentacles reaching out to MSUM and MGML’s Museums Shops, where, from this summer onward, it will be possible to buy various “souvenirs” specially produced by Aksioma for the launch of the Privacy Gift Shop in Slovenia.
 Quoted in Stephanie Murg, “I Spy: New Museum Opens ‘Privacy Gift Shop’”, in Adweek, September 9, 2013, online at www.adweek.com/fishbowlny/new-museum-privacy-gift-shop/302687.
21 June – 21 July 2017
Aksioma | Project Space