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by Yucef Merhi
November 1, 2017 – November 30, 2017

Every month Marginalia invites an artist, curator or project to provide a series of images that will serve as the background of Terremoto, in relation to their practice and current interests. At the end of each month, the identity of our guest is revealed and the whole series of images is unveiled.


The body of work gathered in this selection goes through two decades of interception and representation of data. Doing a brief historical recount, in 1998 I achieved to enter the server of the biggest telecommunications company of Venezuela, CANTV, and to obtain the data base of all the users subscribed to the internet service. This way I produced Seguridad, a mural in which, from a lines flow, visual and semantic intersections, names, last names, identity numbers, room addresses, user names, passwords, bank accounts and more, belonging to the members of the most used Internet server in Venezuela.

With Seguridad I introduced an aesthetic form I named datagram. This is a spatial-planning system from the intersection and appropriation of sensible data. The obtained information is unencrypted, printed and organized, applying a mathematical-geometrical pattern that smothers the exhibition support with a thick textual mass.

That same year I started the recollection of data for another project I named Máxima Seguridad, an immersive installation that reveals the emails of the deceased ex-president of Venuezuela, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. The interception was made throughout more than five years (1998-2004) and has been shown in exhibition spaces and museums of Los Angeles, New York, London, Amsterdam, and other cities. Máxima Seguridad was ahead of Wikileaks for almost a decade.

In 2006 I presented Mínima Seguridad. For that I got access to the data base of Venezuela’s national ID system (previously known as ONIDEX) and recollected the card numbers—or identity numbers—of all the Venezuelans born in February 4, during the past 100 years. I chose this day in allusion to the first coup d’état conducted by Hugo Chávez in 1992. With the same data base I made net art pieces such as Supernumerarios and, in 2010, I showed Divina Seguridad, standing out all the Venezuelans born the same day Chávez did, to say, July 8, 1954. For my surprise (or amazement), that day exactly 666 people were born. Chávez’s card number is the only one featured as a red-color print.

In the past decade I’ve included new methods of digital visualization and used international data bases. In 2013, before the Kingpin list (Presidency, Congress, and Department of the Treasury of the United States) became popular, I started producing datagrams of criminal organizations’ leaders in Latin America. Then, in 2016, I presented a group of projects in Lima, that approach the political scenario of Perú. The starting point was the electronic correspondence of a minister of Humala’s government, who, eventually, was accused of corruption. I named the body of works that emerged from that data Seguridad Interior.

Among the most recent works there is Seguridad Desalmada (2017), a series of pieces that expose the names and ID numbers of all the officials that form part of the National Bolivian Police, agency managed by Maduro’s government. The NBP has distinguished for being part of one of the major blocking forces of the civic will and the re-establishment of democracy in Venezuela. This “police force”, along with the National Bolivian Guard, is responsible for the massacre of 157 people who protested—from April to August this year—against Nicolás Maduro’s government.

Yucef Merhi


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