Remember the Orwellian Transport for London CCTV poster from 2002? There’s a new poster on the Underground, inviting us to report our suspicions of fellow citizens to the nearest authority. I actually think that it’s a great piece of artwork, but there’s something unsettling about the tone and the overall impression.
Perhaps it’s the fact that, if you changed the inscriptions to Cyrillic, it wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate Modern’s collection of Soviet propaganda posters.
What is suspicious, though? Sweating on the un-air-conditioned Tube? Carrying a rucksack like half the passengers on there? Having a dark complexion in a city of a thousand ethnicities?
I don’t think that the poster is really serving a useful purpose: it merely heightens tension and unease, and increases the fear of the other that leads to Brazilian electricians getting shot and Muslims being viewed as fifth columnists. That doesn’t help anyone.
And besides, it just looks creepy and totalitarian.