Hands Up: Flux Factory Installation Simulates Police Shooting

A new Long Island City installation by artists Atif Ateeq and Roopa Vasudevan titled, Hands Up, is the latest to address the hot-button issue of police brutality by simulating the experience of being shot. The artists employ tools including camera flashes, the sound of gunfire, and motion sensors to get the message across.

The exhibition, which opened on May 15 at Flux Factory (see Ben Davis Selects New York’s 10 Best Secret Art Sites), also features projected videos of the arrest of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore resident who died in police custody, along with the shooting of Walter Scott, a South Carolina resident who was killed by a police officer following a traffic stop.

Artist Atif Ateeq installing Hands Up! Photo: Stephanie Keith

Artist Atif Ateeq installing Hands Up.
Photo: Stephanie Keith

Predictably, not everyone is a fan. The New York Daily News reports that the project has received criticism from the NYPD labor union. “This so-called ‘art project’ is based upon a lie and perpetuates a falsehood about police officers and their use of force,” Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, told the Daily News. “If art is supposed to enlighten and uplift, this piece of crap doesn’t qualify.”

Photo: Byron Smith

Photo: Byron Smith

The artists invite everyone to come and experience the work for themselves.”We know that there is no way possible to fully comprehend what it’s like to be confronted in this manner unless it actually happens to you, but we’re hoping that even this simulation will enable people to understand the chaos and tension prevalent in the situation,” the artists told artnet News via email.

“It’s always really interesting seeing people interact with the piece because people have drastically different responses when they walk in and the audio starts,” the pair added. “Everyone walks out pretty shaken up and disoriented, which was definitely our intention.”

Ateeq and Vasudevan certainly aren’t the first artists to express their anger about police violence, of course (see After Ferguson, A New Protest Culture’s Challenge to Art, and High School Art Exhibition Sparks National Controversy Over Images of Police Brutality). As part of his residency at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Wall Street Journal reports that the artist Adam Pendleton will go to Ferguson, Mo., along with other politically charged sites. In April, Italian artist Alexsandro Palombo released a series of works featuring The Simpsons reimagined as African-Americans (see Police Officer Shoots Black Bart Simpson in Artist’s Take on Iconic Cartoon). And last year, several artists took to the streets during Art Basel in Miami Beach last year to protest the killings of Michael Brown and Israel Hernandez (see Artists Take to Miami Streets to Protest Michael Brown and Israel Hernandez Killings).

Hands Up will be on display at Flux Factory in Long Island City from May 15–19, 2015.


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