Round Up the Usual Suspects


Round Up the Usual Suspects, 2002
8 mm film mixed with video

“The organization of a strict institution meant to function quickly and almost without thinking, an organization of individuals who have to act like one body in relation to which each individual is but one member or one organ, tends to create its own symbolic code. In such an institution language cannot and ought not be the only tool of communication. There have to be other systems of signals and signs in order to address the immediate response of the subjects. Such an organization is the Police. In the Police dress functions as a code of hierarchy. Colors and signs indicate the rank of each member without words.

By filming these color codes of the Police the artist’s eye is able to discover one origin of the pure abstract language of color and sign outside of the established realm of art. Art also still is the exploration of art’s origin outside the institution of art. The camera is exploring white caps and gloves, uniform jackets in green and black, in beige and red; almost like an invisible mouse the camera’s eye is sneaking through the rows and rows of posing Police. In this new frame the Police is reinvented as ornament. Carefully crawling upwards all the way from the proud white galoshes to the severe faces, almost licking the chests in uniform this camera is exposing the abstract game of power staged by the means of form and color. The closer the zoom gets the more obvious the mental distance grows. If we were to guess who has been filming this abstract display of collective prowess, this ballet of masculinity, we would have to exclude a lot of possibilities in order to come to a very specific result. This shameless curiosity for the signs of male display, this almost childlike, naive, slightly frivolous voyeurism does indicate a female yet quite contemporary eye. If we as Europeans consider our own relation to public appearances of army and police we’ve reached a state of alienation that even excludes critical exposure. “Round up the Usual Suspects”, the title in itself indicating an ironic distance, the main subject is a Turkish police parade.

Accompanied by two music pieces, the first being a typical military brass band, the rhythm of the images between close-ups and totals is in easy flow. The rich reddish colors show a saturated southern afternoon light and a “filmy” grain. One handsome young policeman seems to almost flirt with the camera. The athletic exercises on motorcycle, the otherwise ostentatious display of aiming a pistol at full speed is introducing a comic aspect. The comic element the subject involuntarily displays when framed differently the last scene consciously produces by editing. A man is pacing a sports stadium with a microphone, children behind the security fence greet him – they are supposed to be his protégés – yet they look imprisoned. The whole sequence is shown in slow motion; and we hear a sentimental Turkish song that has been recorded with a lot of technical disturbances. The policeman is equaled with an entertainer, whose kitschy song sounds like a far away echo – the echo of unquestioned show-off authority.”

— Katherina Zakravsky