Berlin-based artist Hito Steyerl interviewed museum security staff who have military and law enforcement backgrounds, including Ron Hicks, a security guard at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), where Steyerl’s video Guards is now showing. The haunting video follows the officers as they move through the galleries, recounting harrowing stories from their law enforcement days. In one scene, Hicks reenacts a stakeout recalled from his previous career as a Federal Police Officer serving as part of a Special Reaction Team.
Steyerl knows how to collect and create intriguing stories. Last year she had her first solo show in New York at e-flux where her “November” video essay was shown. She used clips from a film she made with a childhood friend when they were 17. A voice-over by Ms. Steyerl reveals that her friend later joined the Kurdish liberation movement and died near the Iraqi border in 1998, probably executed by the Turkish Army. Steyerl is a global citizen (educated in Berlin, Tokyo, and earned a PhD in philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna) but she says her most formative education was working as a stunt-girl and bouncer.
Video Stills, Hito Steyerl, Guards, 2012, single-channel HD video, 20 min. loop. Courtesy the artist and Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam.