‘Hands up’: New Interactive Installation Aims to Foster Conversation About Police Brutality

May 15, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

A new art installation in Queens aims aims to foster empathy and create dialogue around police brutality by putting visitors into a disorienting space and confronting them with police sirens. According to Reuters, visitors will walk through a dark space in Long Island City’s Flux Factory “one at a time,” where they will be barraged “with flashing lights and police sirens.” They are then “ordered to raise both hands, activating a blinding flash and a simultaneous photo.” The photos will be put on display as an extension of the art exhibit.

The project was created by artists and NYU ITP alumns Atif Ateeq and Roopa Vasudevan. Here’s how Ateeq describes the project:

HANDS UP is a large scale piece that explores law enforcement’s relationship with people of color. The installation will simulate the experience of being confronted by the police in the manner that resulted in the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Ferguson, MO. The piece directly places visitors in the chaotic and overwhelming moments that have since led to an ongoing debate about the state of race relations in America.

Obviously, there’s no way to experience the trauma of being attacked by the police unless you’re a victim of it yourself, but Vasudevan hopes that the artwork will help people will be able to gain an appreciation for what Ateeq refers to as an “imbalance of power in society.”

“The whole purpose of this was not to necessarily take a stand one way or the other … but to generate empathy,” Vasudevan told Reuters. “A lot of the divisiveness and a lot of the issues just come from a lack of understanding on either side.”

“Hands Up,” Atif Ateeq and Roopa Vasudevan, Flux Factory, May 15-17, Long Island City

(Photo: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)