Title: Erasing A Classified Military Document
Dimensions: duration: 1:39
Notes: video
Country: The Netherlands


Jason File is an artist, university lecturer in Fine Art, and a war crimes prosecutor for the United Nations in The Hague, where he prosecutes cases of genocide and crimes against humanity. His background covers law, social sciences, the humanities, and fine art, including a BA from Yale in Humanities, an MPhil from Oxford in International Relations, and a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School. In his art practice, Jason File seeks to create and exploit overlaps between real life and art objects or events, thereby posing urgent questions about the identity of objects, the significance and meaning of events, the context- and event-specificity of power, and the relationships between individuals and institutions. He graduated in 2013 with two first-class BA degrees in Fine Art: one from the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London where he won the Ovalhouse Prize at graduation, and the other from the Royal Academy of Art in The Netherlands, where he won the Academy Thesis Prize at graduation. He exhibits widely and has received commissions from individuals and organisations including Hitachi Consulting in London. He is an American and British dual-national who speaks English and French who lives and works between London and Hague.


Employing elements of real life as a material in his multimedia practice, Jason File’s work reflects on the function of institutions, structures and networks in society, their relationships vis-à-vis individuals, and how those relationships are constructed, mediated, and altered. This work remains broadly focused on a range of official institutions, from art world institutions such as galleries and museums to government, media, corporate, and legal structures, as well as informal organizations and groups in society.
By creating and exploiting overlaps between real life and art objects or events, Jason File’s art practice poses urgent questions about the identity, authenticity, value and purpose of objects, the significance and meaning of events, and the context- and event-specificity of power. The artist often seeks to utilize his own relationships with and memberships in institutions in order to employ materials, spaces or contexts that are generally shielded from aesthetic critique or use, or free from artistic intervention—“non-art” environments—as a means of exploring institutional processes. In Erasing a Classified Military Document (2013), the artist executed a performance on 27 May 2013 in The Hague, The Netherlands, using an industrial shredding machine to destroy the material form of an institutional military secret. A “readymade performance,” this work employs and repurposes a real and consequential event, mining it for aesthetic and critical content. The title of the work connects it to a long line of artists who have used destruction as a creative gesture, including Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning Drawing (1953).


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