Inverse Surveillance Project

Grant Type: General Operating

Duration: January 1, 2024 - December 31, 2024

Organization Overview

The Inverse Surveillance Project is a hybrid co-created process and community art project and counter-archive that takes its name from the concept of “citizen under-sight,” an action undertaken by the subjects of surveillance of the systems of surveillance.


The Inverse Surveillance Project is simultaneously an interactive installation and a co-creation process that act as a sequel to “The Feeling of Being Watched” (2018), an award-winning first-person investigative documentary from journalist Assia Boundaoui. In the film, Boundaoui uncovers one of the largest FBI terrorism probes conducted before 9/11, code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal,” which targeted her Arab and Muslim American neighborhood in Chicago. Boundaoui filed dozens of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Justice requesting records about this investigation and sued the FBI in federal court to compel transparency. The Inverse Surveillance Project begins with 33,000 declassified documents, full of redacted holes—simultaneously spaces of absence and portals of possibility. The Project involved designing a co-creation process in the Chicagoland Muslim and Arab community, collecting and preserving a community archive, and building a site-specific installation in Bridgeview, Illinois, using tens of thousands of redacted FBI records as a canvas for a community reclaiming a narrative.

Year founded: 2015

Location: Bridgeview, IL