• Civic Gaze
    Camila Palomino & Sean Vegezzi

Drawing created through the “Beyond Documentation: Aesthetics of Policing, Civic Gaze Workshop,” The Center for Human Rights & the Arts (CHRA), Bard College, February 4, 2023. Digital image. Annotations courtesy the artist Haitham Haddad

Civic Gaze is a participatory research initiative formed to examine how spatial politics in New York City are shaped through policing infrastructures. The project examines the recently released New York City Police Department (NYPD) surveillance films archive, a digitized collection of over 140 hours of 16mm footage made between 1960 and 1980. The subjects of the NYPD’s surveillance practices during this tumultuous period included activists, religious groups, local labor leaders, and even NYPD officers as they organized for various workers’ rights. The archive offers a rare look into aesthetic forms authored by the NYPD. This includes imaging for monitoring political and demographic subjects, but also immense cartographic information about the city that was inadvertently captured in the dragnet approach to data collection. Through civilian-led investigations on the complex legacy of the NYPD’s monitoring units, the project traces the development of surveillance methodologies and their inextricable link to urban placemaking.

Camila Palomino is a curator and researcher from New York City. Her research is invested in the aesthetic relationships between urban infrastructures, civic memory, and imaging technologies. She is currently the curatorial assistant at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. Recent independent curatorial projects have been organized at SculptureCenter, Abrons Arts Center, and The Hessel Museum of Art. Palomino has been a visiting lecturer in the Photography Program at Bard College. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Sean Vegezzi is an artist and researcher who has examined urban topographies and infrastructures through image-making, site-specific installation, sculpture, and writing. Vegezzi's practice begins from lived experience and investigates civic life in relation to issues of autonomy, privacy, security, carcerality, and policing. Currently, they are pursuing a dual bachelor’s degree in urban studies and psychology at The New School in New York City while working as a director and cinematographer and engaged in a long-term project centered on the Vernon C. Bain Correctional Center (VCBC). VCBC is an 800-bed, 191-meter floating detention facility moored in the East River within the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx.