Privacy and the mashrabiya screen: Knowledge is Sweeter than Honey


  • Lisa Dickson Kent University


privacy, Privacy by Design, data flows, screens, Susan Hefuna


This paper is offered to demonstrate the value of legal objects in the consideration of key legal concepts. In it I indicate the opportunities presented by an encounter with Susan Hefuna’s large Mashrabiya Screen artwork in the British Museum to supplement, criticise and disrupt current thinking and attitudes towards the concept of privacy. In contrast to the increasingly contested and transactional nature of contemporary understandings of this concept, in which privacy is sometimes imagined just as one more complex function in the reasonable management of dataflows, Hefuna’s screen can help to articulate and support a different approach to privacy. This approach is Privacy by Design, and through a consideration of the physicality of Hefuna’s work, together with her own artistic ambition, my claim is that her art object helps to make the alternative approach to privacy manifest and tangible, prompting a reappraisal of the proper scope and nature of privacy protection.