The Big Boss
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 60 centimetres
This project had a convoluted development that ended in a result that had not been planned from the outset. The original idea was to analyse the iconography of an arrest depicted in news reports which commonly shows the suspect barefoot and bare chested, the track pants presumably a concession to modesty because the arrested individual was hauled out of bed as a consequence of an early morning raid.
I took some care in establishing details of the criminal’s appearance — shaven headed, stubbly pinched face sporting an angry, petulant expression and a white power tattoo lettered in old Germanic script that proclaims the motto ‘God With Us’. Likewise the police with their sunglasses, high visibility vests, baseball caps with the cop checker livery and belts with a pistol were carefully crafted for verisimilitude. Doubts about the direction of the project set in when I started researching the setting for this event because it threatened to become a meaningless reconstruction that failed to explore issues such as state force in relation to an underclass.
When a decision needed to be made about whether to abandon the project, the thought of steering it in an other direction occurred to me as I watched a Bruce Lee film, The Big Boss. The movie’s dynamic theatricality suggested a cartoonish aesthetic that promised to be more enjoyable than the dour premise of the original plan and I briefly played with the thought of inverting the power relationship of the characters and showing the criminal hurling the cop through a wall (people crashing through walls being a recurring Kung Fu theme in the movie fight scenes).
Although amusing, this solution felt cheesy, and moreover, difficult to model, hence I decided upon a video game approach where the figures are poised for action in a maze-like quasi-Oriental environment populated with roughly carved tribal statues. The logic of the hybrid iconography is messy but I liked the lighting of the scene and geometry of the environment enough to dismiss any further thoughts of abandoning the project.The Big Boss, Bruce Lee film poster