Cloaca Projects presents its first publication, US VS US by Nikita Gale. The project comprises a limited edition of unique books and posters, accompanied by a specifically designed online iteration of the book.

During a phase of research in early February, Nikita Gale encountered an online archive of almost 200 images detailing an inventory of LAPD equipment used in “law enforcement activity.” The sheer volume of materials and objects represented in this collection of images was a striking visual counterpart to some of the other references to volume circulating in the media – the numbers of people murdered by police; the astronomical budgets of police departments throughout the United States; the growing list of acquittals k.and charges dropped or never presented to begin with.

In early June, in the midst of lockdown orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and global protests, Gale revisited the work of a favorite writer, June Jordan. In Jordan’s poem “Letter to the Local Police,”” Jordan satirically takes up the voice of an insipid suburban resident writing a letter to the police to level a complaint about roses “abiding in perpetual near riot/of wild behavior [and] indiscriminate coloring.”

With the generous cooperation of the June Jordan Foundation, the project that emerged is an online experience created in collaboration with artist and musician Wizard Apprentice and designer Andreas Tagger. The online composition is a poetic configuration of text and images: Jordan’s poem, photographs of roses taken by Nikita Gale in early June on an unauthorized foray into the Exposition Park Rose Garden, and a selection of LAPD equipment inventory images.

Users slowly scroll “downward” passing through overlapping images and animations that activate a dynamic and evolving landscape of sound, image, and language. This arrangement of elements highlights the reality that the equipment in the aforementioned LAPD inventory serves to maintain the spatial and psychological sense of safety in the bucolic, pristine space from which June Jordan’s protagonist complains to the “local police.” It is a reminder that any idea of community is a false one when its sense of safety is achieved through the oppression of others – an oppression achieved in large part by the leveraging of various kinds of state-sanctioned “equipment.”
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