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Michael Rakowitz, The Ballad of Special Ops Cody (still), 2017


As Michael Rakowitz’s The Ballad of Special Ops Cody suggests, myth and history are often so close as to be inseparable. This animated video was inspired by a real incident from 2005, in which fuzzy photographs of a captured North American soldier with a gun to his head were—after arousing genuine panic—discovered to have been mocked up using a lifelike doll sold on a US air base in Iraq. In the video, the pose-able doll (Cody) visits Mesopotamian temple statues at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. His ballad expresses his and the statues’ statuses as symbolic totems far from home: pawns in a much larger game.

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