Images from The Museum of Authority
Photographs by T.W. Li

01.Leash.12x13 02.Pants.12x16 03.Cattle Prod.12x17 04.Plunger.10x17
05.Flashlight.12x18 06.Phonebook.11x18 07.TypewriterCvr.11x18 08.Sleeping Bag.18x7

Images from The Museum of Authority



more work by T.W. Li

The Museum of Authority presents an exhibit of artifacts that pays tribute to clever and resourceful American brutality. On display are everyday objects used by Americans to torture and kill in the line of duty.

These large photographic documents are the natural history-style presentation of a contemporary condition. Horrible crimes perpetrated by Americans get pushed from our conscience by the dominant forces of politics and commerce. Since all America is implicated, we prefer it out of sight, out of mind.

Is it really possible that we could be capable of such things? The simulated museum display, a dispassionate exhibit of facts, allows the viewer to stand apart from this history, not a member of this exoticized other culture. But the Museum of Authority heroicizes these acts of domination, so the audience is not excused from participating and passing judgment.

This is a critique of power twofold: authoritarian sadism of the first order, and then the culture power, represented by the museum model, worshipping the power of barbarism — war, torture, and manly dominance.