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I Spy: New Museum Opens ‘Privacy Gift Shop’


An Anti-Drone Scarf, part of a collection of “stealth wear” by Adam Harvey in collaboration with Johanna Bloomfield.

A temporary store for stuff designed to help users evade detection? Such is the lowdown pop-up now operating at New York’s New Museum, which has given over its ground-level selling space to the Privacy Gift Shop. Stop in through September 22 to stock up on clothing and accessories that protect against various methods of surveillance.

Designed by artist Adam Harvey and fashion designer Johanna Bloomfield, the “stealth wear” on offer includes a metallized silk scarf (inspired by Muslim dress) that protects against thermal imaging surveillance, a dollar bill-sized wallet insert made of copper fabric to thwart would-be RFID skimmers, and an optical character recognition-resistant version of the iconic “I ♥ NY” t-shirt.

“In 2013 I received an inquiry from an intelligence agency to publish my artwork in a classified document. I obliged but was frustrated by the odd request. Was I a suspect or an inspiration? And what does it mean for an artwork to become classified intel? Beguiled, I imagined a way to make my work as accessible and unclassified as possible,” says Harvey. “The result of that inquiry is the Privacy Gift Shop. It’s my vision to bring privacy and counter-surveillance ideas to a wider audience and engage in discussions about how art, design, and creativity can play a role in protecting privacy.”

Afraid of being seen purchasing a case that will elude the shadowy characters who are tracking your mobile phone calls? Truly stealth operators will proceed quietly, under the cover of proxy servers, to the New Museum’s virtual Privacy Gift Shop. Just be sure to pay with an anonymous pre-paid credit card.

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