About The Watcher Files Project

In 2013, Garrick Imatani and Kaia Sand began an artist residency with the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, a Percent for Art project commissioned by the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Their collaboration has resulted in The Watcher Files Project, an engagement with surveillance documents collected by the Portland Police Bureau on civic and activist groups in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In 1981, an Oregon law made it illegal to conduct surveillance on organizations not linked to a criminal investigation, and the files were slated for systematic liquidation. Officer Winfield Falk, a lead detective conducting this surveillance, stole away 36 boxes of files into a barn. In 1987, he died of a heart attack. It would be another 15 years until someone anonymously donated the boxes to the Portland Tribune newspaper, which subsequently ran a series of articles (and coined the term “Watcher Files”) that caught the eyes of City Archivists who then laid the legal groundwork to acquire the documents on behalf of the city of Portland. The archivists ventilated the documents with springtime air, drying out the mold blooms, clearing off mice droppings, and sweeping off encrusted dirt. They were successful saving most of the documents but some were unsalvageable, such as stacks of photos that had emulsified into bricks. The remaining files contain information on 301 different organizations.


In collaboration with some people surveilled in the files, as well as other artists, Imatani and Sand created artistic and literary interventions that serve as an addendum to the original files, a way to annotate some of what is missing within the institutional record, as well as investigate what is there.

The Watcher Files Project is a City of Portland Percent for Art project, managed by the Regional Arts & Culture Council


Thank You:

Our gratitude to Abra Ancliffe, Holly Andres, Corey Arnold, Lydia Au, Katherine Ball, Diana Banning, Eric Baxter, Chris Beanes, Jules Boykoff, Inge Bruggeman, Sasha Burchuk, Devon Busby, Kristin Calhoun, Kathy Carbone, Jim Carmin, Clare Carpenter, Marti Clemmons, Tony Chrenka, Cathryn Chudy, Allison Cobb, Alicia Cohen, Jen Coleman, Dave Collins, Justin Counts, Liam Drain, Charles Eberhardt, Meg Eberle, Ann Marie Fallon, Kent Ford, Simone Glasgow, Alicia Gordon, Mary Hansen, Amanda Hendricks, Haley Heynderickx, Jen Hofer, Indigo Huddleston, Lazlo Imatani, Ariana Jacob, Brian Johnson, Max Johnson, Hank Lazer, Cassius Lesperance, Charlene Liu, Nadine Antoinette Maestas, Lloyd Marbet, Paul Maziar, Jeremy McWilliams, Palmarin Merges, Daniela Molnar, Lindsay Mulcahy, Paul Nelson, Soozie Nichol, Joanne Oleksiak, Ryan Wilson Paulsen, John Pluecker, Henry Polacek, Amy Powell, Andy Powell, William Rihel, Crystal Rodger, Irina Rudenko, Linda Russo, Neal Sand, Stacey Tran, Marie Watt, Jessi Wahnetah, Heather Watkins, Patricia Welch, Lawrence Wheeler, and Bethy William.

This website was designed and developed by Sasha Burchuk – www.sashaburchuk.com