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Poli IV (Cop IV), from the series Orillese a la orilla (Edge Over to the Edge)

1999
21st century

Yoshua Okón (Mexico City, 1970 - ) Primary

Object Type: time based media
Artist Nationality: Latin America, Mexican
Medium and Support: Color video with sound
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, 2003
Accession Number: 2003.77

Okón generally invites ordinary people to act in his videos, offering them a fee in exchange for working with him to broadly define and perform a storyline. Poli IV is one of a series of six videos the artist created in collaboration with different Mexico City policemen. In this case, Okón asked an officer to repeat a baton-twirling routine he had performed on the street. For the filming, the policeman embellished his performance, displaying a combination of martial-arts movements, bodybuilding poses, and sexual gestures. Okón shot the video straight-on with a handheld camera, against a plain backdrop, giving the video an amateurish look. When the piece is displayed, the life-size projection of the figure creates a one-to-one relation with the viewer. The unfiltered and extravagant performance undermines and implicitly ridicules the policeman’s authority. Visitor response to the work ranges from amusement to disgust at what might be seen as the acting out of arrogant, testosterone-fueled fantasies by a uniformed law enforcer. Meanwhile the viewer, as anonymous as the policeman, is a voyeur watching a private performance for entertainment. Ultimately, the work unsettles the customary relations between policemen and citizens as well as blurs the distinction between fictional and authentic displays of power

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