Michele Pred handed out small pocket knives passengers arriving at San Francisco's International Airport to replace those that have been confiscated since the passage of the Patriot Act 15 years ago.
Dressed as a 1960s-era flight attendant (complete with an original hat worn by Pan Am stewardesses -- one of whom was her mother), Pred returned to travelers one of the most commonly confiscated items in airport security lines. The performance was, of course, sanctioned: she had received permission from the airport, obtaining a Free Speech and Expressive Activities Permit after a long application process. She specifically chose the two and a quarter-inch red knives as they are the most common of all those that TSA officers seize. To her, though small, the utilitarian object and the response its presence provokes at airports speak volumes about security culture.
"The text that I had printed on them was intended as a somewhat humorous way of driving home the notion that our focus on security has not only taken things away from us, but has not clearly explained what it has given back," Pred told Hyperallergic.
That such a thing as a "Free Speech and Expressive Activities Permit" even exists is possibly the most horrifying thing I've heard this week.