Secrets in a Democracy

Bound up in such concepts as sacredness, intimacy, danger, and the forbidden, secrecy is something familiar to all of us. Commonly we perceive secrets as guilty, conspiratorial, or pathological, forgetting that secrets can also protect our identity, intentions, actions, and property. At the collective level, many have argued that official secrecy is incompatible with democracy. While others allow that institutional secrecy is sometimes legitimate and necessary, they maintain that those who exercise power must justify their control over secrecy and openness. Even with persuasive reasons, they insist that accountability is indispensable in a democracy. Still others claim that confidentiality and national security are sufficient rationale for professional, corporate, administrative , and military secrecy. The “Secrets in a Democracy” art exhibition features works by Trevor Paglen, Linda Pollack, Mark Lombardi, Aaron Gach/ Center for Tactical Magic, Naeem Mohaiemen/Visible Collective, and Jamie Wagg. The show is organized by Tran, T. Kim- Trang Director, Scripps Humanities Institute Associate Professor of Art, Department of Art, Scripps College Core Faculty, Intercollegiate Media Studies Program, in conjunction with the Humanities Institute program, “Secrets in a Democracy,” which also includes a lecture and film series. An opening reception will be held in Williamson Gallery on Wednesday, September 16, 5:30- 7:30 p.m., followed by a lecture, cosponsored by the Gallery and the Scripps Humanities Institute, by artist Naeem Mohaieman in the Boone Recital Hall in the Scripps College Performing Arts Center, at 7:30 p.m.