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[] Conference: Towards a New Visualization of Secrecy? Representations of Secrecy within Contemporary Terrorism and Counterterrorism / 24 March / Stedelijk Museum CS Amsterdam

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International Conference

Towards a New Visualization of Secrecy?
Representations of Secrecy within Contemporary Terrorism and
Saturday 24 March 2007, 10:00 ­ 20:00
Stedelijk Museum CS Amsterdam

Featuring Tariq Ali, Albert Benschop, Kathalijne Buitenweg MEP, David
Campbell Jordan Crandall, James Der Derian, Meta Haven, Brian Holmes, Buro
Jansen & Janssen, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Naeem Mohaiemen and Trevor Paglen

The conference is jointly organized by Tina Clausmeyer and the Jan van Eyck
Academie Maastricht and in cooperation with the Stedelijk Museum CS


Secret Networks of Terror vs. Secret Networks Against Terror
The conference explores theoretically as well as visually the emergence of
new phenomena of secrecy within transnational terrorist and counterterrorist
networks. Since 9/11 and in the aftermath of the wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq worldwide clandestine operations have increasingly been undertaken by
terrorist and counterterrorist networks. Conflicts are on the whole no
longer fought in public, but rather in concealment. In the present "state of exception", the "war on terrorism" has been waged in a symbolic realm
consisting of global "webs" of names, actions and locations. This
conference addresses the question as to whether the increasing awareness of hitherto invisible contemporary terrorist and counterterrorist actions has produced a new "visualization" of secrecy. Intending to offer a
cross-disciplinary and experimental platform to negotiate new and critical
positions this conference will question the extent to which both antagonists use secrecy as a strategy in an asymmetrical global warfare. The conference participants, coming from diverse backgrounds such as academia, human rights activism, new media, visual arts, and politics, will debate on the strategic and visual aspects of these new forms of secrecy.

New Forms of Secrecy within Transnational Terrorism
The Internet has become the virtual database and training camp through which Al Qaeda as umbrella organization keeps its message alive, holding a
powerful grip while remaining in secrecy. As quasi "open universities" of
violence and spectacle, the dynamic cell structure of the multi- and
transnational terrorist alliances, affiliations of semi-independent cells
and loosely interconnected jihadi groups have presented themselves as
invisible and "spaceless" enemies. Concealed spaces of terror are dispersed in cyberspace through chat rooms, online broadcasts, virtual handbooks on training and combat methods as well as in homes, sleeper cells, or training camps. As the most powerful tool of terrorism and global jihad (by visualizing atrocities and concealing logistical, financial and communication structures), the Internet has been used by Al Qaeda and other jihadi networks to conduct a sophisticated form of psychological warfare, that serves to gather information, to train, to fundraise, to propagate ideology, to recruit and network, to plan and coordinate terrorist acts worldwide.

New Forms of Secrecy within Counterterrorism
Guantánamo, more than an American prison camp in Cuba, is an icon of
lawlessness that has functioned as a kind of synecdoche standing in for the other known and unknown (secret) "rendition" programmes all over the world. Recent investigations by the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners confirmed that several governmental organizations as well as individuals attempting to counteract terrorism simply wish to remain unseen. As a multifaceted image of today¹s "state of exception", they embrace a wide-reaching system of "black sites" or so-called ghost prisons ("ghost planes", "ghost ships", etc.) in which
numerous persons have been illegally detained and secretly transported to
third countries, where they have suffered human rights abuses including

A New Visualization of Secrecy?
The conference aims at pinpointing the rising global "states of secrecy" as well as the multifaceted, twisted meanings they engender. A veil of secrecy has always surrounded the shadowy world of intelligence agencies and their opponents, the terrorist alliances. However, in our present day, their transnational nature, infrastructure, and methods of operation, including the virtual realm, have undergone a definite metamorphosis. Secrecy has taken on new dimensions on both sides as revealed persons, locations, and actions (such as the Hofstad Network,, Osama bin Laden, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Guantánamo Bay Camp, Bagram Airbase, USS Bataan, Aero Contractors, Khaled El-Masri, Murat Kurnaz, etc.) provide incontestable evidence. At the same time these clandestine operations, locations and networks have become a matter of public interest. As a result, new phenomena of secrecy have been made visible for a larger audience and a new "visualization" of secrecy emerged: The secret became public.


Jelle Bouwhuis / Curator, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam
Hanneke Grootenboer / Advising Researcher Theory, Jan van Eyck Academie
Tina Clausmeyer / Initiator, Jan van Eyck Academie

Global Wars in Secrecy: Terrorism vs. Counterterrorism
Introduced and moderated by David Campbell / Professor of Cultural and
Political Geography, Department of Geography, Durham University
Tariq Ali / Novelist, Historian and Editor of New Left Review
Kathalijne Buitenweg MEP / Member of the Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners
Albert Benschop / Cyberterrorism Expert, University of Amsterdam
James Der Derian / Watson Institute Professor (Research) of International
Buro Jansen & Janssen / Independent Journalistic Collective
Tariq Ali / Novelist, Historian and Editor of New Left Review

13:30 Lunch break / Artist projection
When An Interpreter Could Not Be Found by Visible Collective/Mohaiemen, Roy

Artists¹ Positions and Visual Strategies after 9/11
Introduced and moderated by Brian Holmes / Art Critic, Cultural Theorist and
Trevor Paglen / Artist, Writer and Experimental Geographer
Black Worlds: Landscapes of Secrecy and Epistemic Limits
Naeem Mohaiemen / Artist and Founder of Visible Collective
Invisible Man & Glamor-Horror Media Cycle
Meta Haven: Design Research / Vinca Kruk & Daniel van der Velden
The Design of Evil
Jordan Crandall / Media Artist and Theorist, Initiator of UNDER FIRE
Disappearing Acts

Concluding remarks
Nicholas Mirzoeff / Professor of Art and Art Professions, Director of the
Visual Culture Programme, New York University
Open Secrets: The Police, Visual Culture and the Image War

Practical Information

Day ticket: 7,50 EUR  (1,50 EUR is transferred to Amnesty International)
All tickets can be picked up and paid for at the 11th floor of the Stedelijk
Museum CS from 10 a.m. onwards. Please note that the language of
communication is English.

Advance booking is recommended. Please register via email before 23 March
at: registration -!
- secrecyconference -

Contact and registration by telephone
Anne Vangronsveld
E anne -
vangronsveld -!
- janvaneyck -
T +31 43 350 3784

Conceptual inquiries
Tina Clausmeyer, concept and organization
E tina -
clausmeyer -!
- gmx -

Stedelijk Museum CS on 11
Oosterdokskade 5
1011 AD Amsterdam
The Netherlands

How to get there
The Stedelijk Museum CS is only a three minutes¹ walk from Amsterdam Central
Station. For a route description please check at: or For more information on Amsterdam please visit: (English site).

Further information

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