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Book Review: Lockdown Archive


Book Review Lockdown Archive By Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari Reviewed by Sarah Bay Gachot Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari’s collaborative book, Lockdown Archive, deliberates and responds to a day in which it became clear the speed with which a U.S. community could be transformed into what was essentially a police state. To recap, a few nights after the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, two men, Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were implicated in the bombing through information reported by a victim of a carjacking in a neighborhood nearby.
Lockdown Archive by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. 
Eighteen Publication, 2015.
Lockdown Archive
Reviewed by Sarah Bay Gachot

Lockdown Archive
Edited by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari
Eighteen Publication, 2015. In English. 80 pp., 370 illustrations, 8¼x10¼". 


Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari’s collaborative book, Lockdown Archive, deliberates and responds to a day in which it became clear the speed with which a U.S. community could be transformed into what was essentially a police state. To recap, a few nights after the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, two men, Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were implicated in the bombing through information reported by a victim of a carjacking in a neighborhood nearby. During the ensuing night chase, Tamerlan was shot and killed by police while Dzhokar evaded arrest. Within hours, there was a citywide manhunt and Boston authorities advised citizens to shelter in place — which they, for the most part, did. The city basically shut down while armed police and military vehicles scoured the streets for the bad guy.
Lockdown Archive by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Eighteen Publication, 2015.

Lockdown Archive is comprised entirely of images that Mandel and Zakari pulled from the internet that were posted and re-posted by citizens and media alike to illustrate that day. The artists categorize and assemble the photographs into sections labeled by area, occurrence, and authoritarian color codes such as “Laurel Street, Watertown, MA,” “Establishing Perimeter,” “Wrong Man,” “Vehicles,” “Bullet Holes,” and “Search Team: Grey,” among others. Ultimately, Mandel and Zakari’s response is a reaction — one somewhere in the realm of hurt, the kind of hurt that sits deep in the soul, asking: Just what is it that we have done? Look at this and how we saw it. Look how overboard this all went.

Lockdown Archive by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Eighteen Publication, 2015.

The book is filled with pictures of activity — police and military figures with guns, rifles, and backpacks, badges glinting in headlights, “police” emblazoned on their backs, helmets, flack jackets, and protective eyewear, armored vehicles, people running, evacuating, hands up. These photos have been taken through screens and doors, from second story windows, and with telephoto lenses. The sheer number of images that surfaced from the bombing reignited online discussions of the “human-flesh search engine” coming to U.S. shores, vigilante tendencies spurred by the dense quantity of shared images at the fingertips of the public.

Lockdown Archive by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Eighteen Publications 2015.

More importantly, a certain voicemail correspondence between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife, Katherine Russell became central to the investigation in the days following the manhunt. This prompted Tim Clemente, a conservative former FBI counterterrorism agent, to casually mention that “We certainly have ways in national security investigations to find out exactly what was said in that conversation. It's not necessarily something that the FBI is going to want to present in court, but it may help lead the investigation and/or lead to questioning of her.” Was this not five weeks before the Guardian published an article revealing that the NSA collected domestic telephone and email metadata from Verizon? Was this not the historical moment before everything that came after — the snowballing descent into all that we now know to be Snowden? We as citizens and through the media were watching and recording what happened that day. And through it all, we began to understand that we are being watched as well.

Lockdown Archive by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Eighteen Publication, 2015.

In an article posted to Truthout.org shortly after the Boston lock down, Henry A. Giroux wrote, “Locking down Boston was generally left unquestioned by the mainstream media, though a number of progressive and left intellectuals raised serious questions about the use and implications of the tactic, particularly the abridging civil liberties, squelching dissent, and legitimating the spectacle of the war machine.” Through this assemblage of images published two years later, Mandel and Zakari agree. The images are followed by an excerpt from the “After Action Report for the Response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings,” written by the teams responsible for advising and choreographing the lock down: the mayor’s office, several police departments, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Emergency Management Agency, and National Guard. The report states that, “As large numbers of self-deployed officers continued to arrive, the ability to manage them became increasingly difficult... there was no systematic way to track incoming officers, provide assignments, and/or deny access to unnecessary mutual aid support. This resulted in confusion about who had overall authority in the field as ongoing law enforcement activities were conducted.” The inclusion of this text reminds us that such authoritarian efforts do have their holes, their errors, their veil-like auspices that sometimes control very little. After all, it was not until the lockdown was lifted that a man noticed that something was amiss with a tarp covering his boat in his backyard. He investigated, and, inside, found Dzhokar, bloody, but alive.

Lockdown Archive by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari. Eighteen Publication, 2015.

Lockdown Archive is the second project that Mandel and Zakari produced in response to this event. The first was a series of plates brilliantly titled Shelter in Plates, to “commemorate the people of Watertown living under siege,” very much more tongue-in-cheek, but I would argue absurdly great and a project that succeeds aesthetically better than the book, which is printed through Blurb and ultimately feels somewhat bland. But as blunt and procedural as this bound presentation of categorized images is, it does speak for the opposition in the face of a certain decay of civil liberties and privacy. For this, the artists are commended—SARAH BAY GACHOT


SARAH BAY GACHOT is a writer and piñata-maker. She is currently at work on a book about the artist Robert Cumming and her publications include Aperture magazineArtSlantThe PhotoBook ReviewThe Daily Beast, and The Art Book Review. Her piñatas have been exhibited and then destroyed at the Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Machine Project, Human Resources LA, and Pomona College, among other places. She also co-hosts the monthly event Hyperience, a free, ongoing series of artist residencies and live collaborative events. Sarah lives in Los Angeles. Lylesfur.tumblr.com


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