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John Akomfrah
The Turkey Shoot Galactico
John Akomfrah

Originally a method for hunting turkeys, by scattering the flock thus creating easy targets, the term Turkey Shoot was later adopted by the military to describe a moment where the enemy was caught off-guard or out-gunned to the point of creating an unfair victory. Here John Akomfrah likens this scenario to the alarming levels of shootings by police in the USA of unarmed African Americans.

An anonymous, but eerily familiar figure clothed in a hoodie, submits himself to the approaching golf players at the opposite end of the green. Beyond the reference to disenfranchised youth, who are often depicted wearing hoodies, this particular garment represents the one worn by Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American who was fatally shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012.

 

Shortly after his killing, pictures appeared online of Martin adorned in his beloved hoodie, and soon after this image became a symbol for those campaigning for his justice. Here, Akomfrah is examining mediated images of death and the question of heroism. Martin’s tragic and untimely death and his newly iconic image inadvertently became symbols of sacred martyrdom that have inspired American society into challenging the nation’s criminal justice system.     

By referencing the victim as a Galactico – meaning someone from another galaxy or alternately, a footballer with superstar status (Los Galacticos being a nickname for the Real Madrid squad) – Akomfrah is celebrating Martin’s human value, and highlighting the relationship between racism and perceptions of difference.