Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen

June 21, 2018 — January 6, 2019

Smithsonian American Art Museum (8th and F Streets, NW)

“What I want from art is to help see the historical moment we live in.”
– Trevor Paglan

Artist Trevor Paglen’s work explores surveillance, state secrecy, data collection, and the ways in which technology is altering humans’ relationship with the land around us. His subtly unnerving photographs are rooted in classical landscape tradition, but reveal manmade objects such as a drone, a communications satellite, or a covert operations station. These images make visible the invisible, revealing a world where technology returns our gaze and the natural world is altered to hide the infrastructure of surveillance.

Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen is the first major career survey for the artist in the United States and includes 93 works of photography, video, sculpture, and found objects. Several of the Paglen’s best-known photography series will be presented in their entirety. A new installation of video and images made using facial recognition algorithms, entitled “How to See Like a Machine,” will be on public view for the first time.

The exhibition is curated by John Jacob, McEvoy Family Curator for Photography, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.


Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Joanne and Richard Brodie Exhibition Endowment, Elizabeth Broun, the Elizabeth Broun Curatorial Endowment, the James F. Dicke Family Endowment, and Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins.