Collectors: Undercover Surveillance of Art Collectors


Earlier this year San Francisco artist Jill Miller completed her project “Collectors”, where after training with a licensed private investigator, she spent six month doing undercover surveillance of art collectors. An exhibition of Jill’s work from this project, including video, photography, text, and sculptural elements, will be on display at [ 2nd floor projects ] from November 17th through January 6th, with an opening reception this Saturday, November 17th from 7-10pm.

From January to March 2007 San Francisco-based artist Jill Miller trained with a licensed private investigator. She worked on real cases, learning various components of the profession, from vehicle outfitting to location reconnaissance to moving surveillance (vehicular and pedal). Miller began this project out of her interest in the ways that the legal system protects (or challenges) an individual’s right to privacy. Driven by this curiosity, she learned how to conduct surveillance within the legal limits of the law. Once familiar with the field, Miller (and a team of two artist assistants) executed her own plans for surveillance under the advisement of the private investigator. Only this time, instead of working on randomly assigned cases, Miller turned an eye onto the art world itself, spending six months undercover doing surveillance on the San Francisco art world’s most elusive community: art collectors. Miller estimates she did surveillance on ten houses, focusing on five of them in depth.

Jill Miller’s previous project was Waiting for Bigfoot, where she did a live video stream of her search for Bigfoot from a remote Northern California forest.

Scott Beale
Scott Beale

Scott Beale is the founder of Laughing Squid and is based in New York City. When not running the blog, Scott can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.