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– COBRA 1.0 Exhibition Images

– Jenny R’s written Response.

COBRA  1.0

© COBRA RES 2013

From Samuel Stevens film ‘Route du Sud’ © COBRA RES 2013

COBRA 1.0 is the maiden exhibition of COBRA RES, a five year project to internationally counter-map and creatively respond to the British Governments emergency committee COBRA.   The governments COBRA committee met, most recently, at the end of January 2013 to discuss a response to hostage’s having been held at the Tiguentourine Gas plant in Algeria. At the same time COBRA RES also met in a location near Whitehall to discuss a response to the CORBA emergency committee meeting.

COBRA 1.0 is the first exhibition to make public those creative responses.

Artists, writers and curators involved in COBRA 1.0 come from a number of countries including Iran, Japan, U.K and Germany.

Exhibitors: Hugh Jordan, Chie Konishi, Theo Price, Samuel Stevens, Jenney Richards, , Nima Esmailpour, and the collective H+Corp.


Monday 4th March 2013

6-9pm Launch event/private view

Gallery Studio 1.1, 57 Red Church Street, London, E2 7DG

 (nearest tube Liverpool St or Shorditch High Street Overground Station)

For more information,

COBRA 1.0 Exhibition Images

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Jenny R’s written Response.

COBRA 1.0: A RESPONSE | The Sovereign Cobra


King Cobras are the longest and most venomous snake that inhabits the earth.  Found across South Asian and Indonesia it is a snake of both ecological and cultural fascination and significance.  In London another type of Cobra resides.  Housed at Whitehall this Cobra is rarely seen.  Having materialised only five times in the last two years, this Cobra emerges momentarily, called on the premise to discuss ‘critical’ situations across the globe that necessitate a response from the United Kingdom Government.



COBRA gatherings have been taking place as far as can be deciphered since 1985.  Described to the public (as motivated by the freedom of information act), COBRA is a committee set up for national and international crisis response.  Having convened for perceived emergency situations such as Foot and Mouth outbreak, 7 July 2005 London bombings, fire-fighters strike, and September 11th a briefing document is produced which logs the actions to be taken.  But what is deemed worthy of a COBRA response and in extension what qualifies as ‘a response’ over headed paper with agreed upon minutes?


COBRA is built from the acronym (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) and shares some similar qualities with our reptilian King Cobra.   Not least the sovereign title that grants both COBRA’s with a prestige and position to exert a politics of fear across the rest of the food chain.  One of the reasons King Cobras (Ohiophagus hannah) are granted the title of king is that that they are famous for feeding on other snakes. It’s name translates as snake-eater and these carnivorous habits allow the King Cobra to reign over its kingdom through an explicit strategy of fear.

snake eating own tail


The Whitehall COBRA shrouded in secrecy hosts similar qualities.  Whilst no literal cannibalism takes place…depending on the outcome of the meeting there are responses which will engender severe responses. During the August 2011 London riots David Cameron held two COBRA meetings which granted police legitimacy in arresting countless people regardless of their real involvement in the resistance. It is a response that plays a double hand.  To appear powerful in the name of protecting the UK population, synchronised with a global performance of power displayed on the international stage that all can acknowledge.



Another quality of the king Cobra is that they are the only snake in the world that can spit their venom.  An easy analogy can be made with the target bombs and drones promoted by members of COBRA to ensure for the UK’s so called self protection.  In reality they make possible an aggressive form of destruction that can always take place at arms length away from the body of the empire.  Yet the visceral and physical attack the King Cobra performs is far from the politics played by the COBRA cabinet.  For to understand this new species of COBRA we must grapple with a new form of political play – that of gesture and performance relayed, mediated and spun by the networks of communication and media. Networks that perpetually reinforce the current structures of dominance in a far more strategic way than simply a single meeting between men.  To look to be taking something seriously is enough to herald it with the weight of an intelligent and ethical ‘response’.  How might we compare the power of a band of grey suits to that of the circulated image via an internet iphone upload?




A cobras hood is created by the extension of the ribs behind the snakes’ head. The Cobra uses its infamous hood to scare its predators.  The murmurings of a COBRA meeting offers a concurrent signal to those at home and elsewhere that the UK will strike if provoked and what’s more the meeting grants these decisions sped through as legal and legitimate.  The momentary nature of the response is key – there is no public archive to these meeting, in Georgio Agamben’s terms it is a ‘state of exception’ a moment in which actions are legitimised by their perceived criticality and as such no one can be held morally, ethically or legally accountable.

Viewing the enclosure

And whilst the King Cobra might be at the top of the food chain there is another response to its growing authority which is tangible, public and visible. COBRA 1.0 offers a material response motivated by each Whitehall meeting and produce individual interventions into what this government address might mean?


By Jenny R.

© COBRA RES 2013

One comment

  1. Pingback: 【報告】アートプロジェクトCOBRA:A Critical Responseの説明会を兼ねた読書会(ジョルジオ・アガンベン「例外状態」) | Wonderland

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