These photographs “stage” the steps of a top-secret CIA document given to covert agents arriving in Frankfurt. The document was released by Wikileaks in April 2017 as part of Vault 7 - the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the CIA. The documents reveal an almost absurd level of banality, a culture so far flung from our Hollywood influenced; idealised perceptions of what it is to be a “spy”. Through my photographs, I aim to present and play on the absurdity that the documents reveal; to challenge our conceptions of contemporary espionage - evoking systems of power through the representation of the banal and blending narratives of fact and fiction. The captions are unedited excerpts from the released document, “directing” each individual photograph.
2018: Odesa Photo Days Festival, Odesa, Ukraine. April. 2017: Paris Photo, Grand Palais, Paris. November. Gare du Nord, Paris. November - December. Felix Nussbaum Museum of Cultural History, Germany. October. Ostrołęka Festival of Photography, Poland. October.
“When you arrive breeze through German customs because you have your cover story down to pat. Avoid suspicious behaviour in the airport.”
“Have your point of contact on your person. There will be a slight difference based on your own cover status. Contact CCI (Centre for Cyber Intelligence).”
“CCI can provide you with a list of hotels that you can choose from; try not to stray from this list: these hotels are pre-approved by Frankfurt base. Check in, drop off your bags, shower (you probably need one).”
“Gas stations are not recommended for fine dining.”
“Do not leave anything electronic or sensitive in the hotel room. Paranoid, yes, but better safe than sorry.”
“Depending on where you are staying in the city you may have to take the U-bahn (subway) to the consulate. Find the U5 towards Preungesheim.”
“The consulate is at the stop gießener straße (phonetically ‘gee-ssen-err-shttrah-sseh’). From the gießener straße stop, walk south towards the consulate.”
“Enter at CAC4 (The Big Entrance). Present your black passport and you will get buzzed straight through. Follow the signs for the employee entrance walking along the left side of the consulate.”
“During your stay meet everyone on base. Talk to them and find out about what they do. Build that network! If you have never been overseas before let folks know!”
“Have a free weekend? Ask for advice on day trips and places to visit. Be aware that your co-workers here are all undercover. While cover seems like an administrative thing back home, it is vital in the field.”
“Respect that while efforts can be made to involve you in social activities, it may not always be possible because of cover concerns.”
“Before you leave buy something in duty free because your awesome and you deserve it! Might I recommend a travellers’ edition single malt whiskey?”