past Exhibition

    Kerry Tribe, The Last Soviet (stills), 2010. Single-channel color digital video projection with sound; 10 min., 44 sec., dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles. © Kerry Tribe

    Jenny Perlin, The Perlin Papers, 2012. Single-channel digital video projection of eight 16mm b/w and color films with sound; 53 minutes, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Simon Preston, New York. © Jenny Perlin

Prologue: Covert Operations

Sep 2 – Sep 22, 2014


Want to spy on the curator? Check out the current events, news, politics and art she’s following while she prepares the fall exhibitions Prologue and Covert Operations.






Prologue is a companion to the upcoming exhibition Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns, on view at SMoCA September 27, 2014 – January 11, 2015.

As the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have catalyzed geopolitics today, so the Cold War set America’s course in the second half of the last century. The entrenched rivalry between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) foregrounded ideological questions of territory and surveillance, secrecy and power, freedom and censorship. The threat of nuclear war and mutually assured destruction was the primary reason physical aggression was averted. Prologue presents films by Jenny Perlin and Kerry Tribe that commingle factual research and artistic license, re-creating Cold War crises that are important background for many artworks in Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns. Prologue introduces the exhibition’s core concepts: evidence, surveillance, disclosure, simulation and defiance. Like the other eleven artists in Covert Operations, Perlin and Tribe utilize the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a law that under certain circumstances allows individuals access to previously secret government records, as well as field work, government and academic archives, and insider connections.

Perlin and Tribe both fused truth and fiction to demonstrate the importance of transparency and privacy and the conflict between governmental authority and civil liberties. Their works interweave the ideological battles fundamental to the Cold War: freedoms of press and speech, a freely elected government and the basic right to citizenship. The Perlin Papers and The Last Soviet reflect the superpowers’ increasingly sophisticated use of media, surveillance and government misinformation—strategies that digital technology and security policy have expanded exponentially since 9/11.

The Prologue screenings will be on view at SMoCA in advance of Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns.


Organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
This exhibition is made possible by an Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award. The Exhibition Award program was founded in 1998 to honor Emily Hall Tremaine. It rewards innovation and experimentation among curators by supporting thematic exhibitions that challenge audiences and expand the boundaries of contemporary art. 


Additional support for the exhibition catalogue provided by Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation.