El gringo

Hidalgo, Mexico, 2003; 4:37 min

In collaboration with Rafael Ortega.

As is well known, ‘gringo’ is the derogatory term Mexicans use to refer to NorthAmerican citizens. Shot in a central province of Mexico, Alÿs’s video portrays the confrontation between a group of dogs protecting their master’s home and an intruder (the cameraman, invisible to the work’s spectators). In this fiction of sorts, the camera takes an active role in the unfolding of the narrative.

By examining the way in which its oppressive gaze can be a form of weaponry as much as a shield, it draws attention to how videocameras have become an epitome of power. Acting ‘like a dog among dogs’, Alÿs deliberately set the camera against the animals knowing that dogs loathe direct eye contact. Throughout the film the camera manages to keep the dogs at bay, sometimes providing a physical armour, sometimes actively entering into the game of menace and recognition.

Protagonist: the camera

Cause of the conflict: the crossing of a road blocked by dogs at the entry of a village

Agents of the conflict: the dogs

Plot: the camera has to break its way through the pack of dogs in order to enter the village

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