Contemporary Reactions: Rueda De Reconocimiento (Lineup)

Victim and Victimizer Switch Roles

Walking through UMOCA, there’s no question which current artwork elicits the loudest response from visitors: Rueda De Reconocimiento (Lineup) by Ananké Asseff. Lineup is an interactive video dealing with violence, race, and victimization. Designed to make the viewer feel uncomfortable and unsafe—as so many people of color experience daily simply existing in the world—Lineup switches the roles of victim and victimizer. Blurry-faced men in the video aim guns at museum-goers (who are noticed by motion sensors) while echoing gun shots ricochets throughout the gallery space. This elicits screams of surprise and terror from many viewers. In doing so, it investigates the way people victimize the very people they claim to be afraid of.

Though Lineup is only one of seven pieces comprising Susan Caraballo’s exhibit The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be, the seemingly ominous setup of the artwork draws museum-goers, even though some are hesitant to go in.

Among the hesitant were Aspen, Emma, and Brecklyn—three high school students who wandered into the museum on a Tuesday afternoon. When asked how they initially reacted to the piece, they had a lot to say.

Lineup Is Still Relevant Today

“It definitely deals with race and how everyone [treats] it,” says Emma. “It doesn’t matter what color skin you [have]. It could be anyone out in the world doing that [violence], not just people of color—which people tend to assume. I don’t personally relate to the piece because white privilege is such a real thing, but that’s why this piece is so important.”

When told that the five men in the video are really the same man dressed in five different ways with his face blurred out, it added even more meaning to the piece for them. Aspen says, “It kind of shows that it could be anyone doing these acts of violence, but not everyone is.”

“With everything going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, along with the cruelty the police are doing towards the black community, the piece is still very relevant,” says Emma.

Asseff created Lineup in 2007 while working on her most well-known piece, Potential, which also deals with gun culture and race. Despite the fact that Lineup came to life ten years ago, people relate to it just as strongly today, as the world still remains divided and people still fear the unknown.

“With everything going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, along with the cruelty the police are doing towards the black community, this piece is still very relevant,” says Emma. While Emma brought a U.S. perspective to the piece, Brecklyn noticed a global connection. “I feel like it relates to other countries, too, because people have to deal with what their government’s deciding,” she says. “And then they have to go out into their communities and experience stuff like [the violence portrayed in Lineup]. It’s kind of scary.”

View Ananké Asseff’s thought-provoking and socially relevant work in UMOCA’s Codec Gallery until May 13.

Kendal Sudman