“Watching Over U” is a series of 2 pieces focusing the inequity that police surveillance has on justice, inside and out of the prison system. It’s become a pattern seeing black people’s bodies used as entertainment online, through the constant sharing of their murders caught on camera and the responses made from them. Usually, though these cases have an abundance of video evidence, whether it’s a surveillance camera on the corner of a street, someone’s phone a couple of feet away from the scene, or a police-ordered bodycam, they never get justice and the brutal killer cops go off free to set their eyes on their next victim. It’s interesting to see blatant injustice take place when these cameras were placed or videos filmed solely for evidence, but somehow though we are constantly being watched through these lenses, it’s still not enough.
The first piece focuses on the absurdity of constant surveillance through the participation of random people off public cameras found on websites like EarthCam. These people, though walking, oblivious to the fact that people may be watching them, didn’t ask to be a part of this piece or be watched, yet the abundance of cameras everywhere make it impossible to have a sense of privacy, even in your own home (webcams can still easily be hacked into). In reality, I question, who is this really helping? I notice that though surveillance is everywhere, I rarely see it being used to bring justice to cases, mainly police killings. My question is, the videos are there, and with the way cops handle themselves in these videos, is there really a need to question them? If you’re not going to use these systems for good then what’s the point of having them there in the first place? Why use these systems when they’re convenient for them (them being the justice system)? If a person were to steal something and it was caught on camera, there would be no questions asked as it’s obvious someone stole something, so why must there be such great deliberation on footage of police brutalizing people of color? Who is teaching these police to use such brute force? I could go on for days.
The second focuses on remembering those who died unjustly in the name of racism and surveillance. If you look, you see their names, Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and countless others. Their deaths were all caught on tape through self-recording, dash or bodycams, and surveillance cameras whether inside or out of prison. These videos were widely spread, with most like-minded people believing that these videos obviously show unnecessary brutalization in the hands of the police, yet these killer cops still walk free with their jobs unscathed. Instead of showing a piece with pain, I wanted to share a lighthearted memorial to them as a reminder that their lives mattered and still do, just like all black lives, whether one is black and gay, trans, a woman, a man, nonbinary…the list could go on forever. Their lives matter, you matter, I matter. Everything needs to change.
Terrell Davis is an 18-year old artist and curator. He is the founder of Tensquared Gallery, which he has been running since 2014 (née 100% Net Gallery), and now runs with curator Joygill Moriah. Terrell’s work focuses on the connection of his life from his childhood to who he is now, expressing themes of femininity and fantasy that he couldn’t freely express as a young boy.