Karen Mirza and Brad Butler, “Deep State”, Science Fiction: New Death
In Deep State (2012-2014), Karen Mirza’s and Brad Butler’s mesmerizing video installation meditating on surveillance and mass protest, the voiceover calmly intones that the law is currently being upheld by hired muscle and corporate bully boys, and has nothing to do with justice. Real power, the film suggests, resides in a “shadowy network of special interests”, where fundamental decisions are made. Under such conditions, structural political change – which would include a meaningful response to environmental crisis and substantial dismantling of the global surveillance apparatus – is impossible.
Deep State forms part of Science Fiction: New Death, an exhibition in Liverpool’s FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). The exhibition as a whole is “based on new writing” by novelist China Miéville, author of The City & the City (2010), a book I admire enormously. Science Fiction: New Death offers a compelling and heartening example of how literary fiction finds new ways to insist on its relevance to wider contemporary engagements.