1984/1992, 48”(h) x 24”(w) x 70 (d), Mixed-media interactive constr/video game
Does a police officer learn to shoot a gun or fire a rifle to protect you?
“…the police have taken a more than benevolent attitude towards Nazis-many policemen are members of Nazi organizations, and many neo-fascists have joined the police [in America].” (New Times, March 1978)
Are we moving towards a police state-by definition a reactionary government that seeks to intimidate and suppress political or social opposition by means of a secret police force? By definition according to Webster’s New World Dictionary police are to protect and keep public order, regulate safety and sanitation, and morals [?]. Further they are organized for preventing, detecting, and punishing crimes and they are an official force established and maintained to keep order.
My sculpture, The Police State-Part 1, deals with and questions the present day interpretations of these definitions, and the abuse of power and misuse of authority by the police. My sculpture raises questions such as: Whom do the police really serve? Protect? Control? Do we see the police possess, control, dominate-that domination assured by force or violence? Does the power of the police force grant them violence with immunity? Are police a form of institutionalized violence, a proving ground for manhood, and a measure of national pride? Why do many police departments object to minority hiring, especially hiring of females? Was this country founded on white male supremacy? The masculinity game must have a loser in order for there to be a winner. The rules of the game require that the losers be reduced to humiliation and powerlessness-the classic status of minorities. I have constructed in the The Police State-Part 1 a game of sorts-“a close-range interpersonal confrontation in which the viewer has an opportunity to become the winner as he/she straddles the chair and seated firmly pulls the trigger on the electronic gun aimed at the video screen’s debased target held prisoner within an animal cage. The taped message, which booms forth from the sculpture’s loudspeaker, echoes “Give yourself up. You are completely surrounded by policemen. If you throw down your guns and come out with your hands up, we guarantee you won’t be harmed.”-immediately followed by the rapid gunfire of the police.