Joaquin Segura is often described as a provocateur, but closer examination of his output reveals him to operate squarely within the realm of the saboteur—a differentiation that serves to emphasize a sophisticated agenda driving his work.
Segura's practice navigates from beneath an often shocking surface, seeking to arouse deeply unsettling tensions within the viewer by uprooting and disrobing his or her most internalized beliefs. A common Segura tactic is to both establish and manipulate cognitive dissonance, throwing seemingly disparate histories, entities, and ideologies into a logical conflict the viewer is then forced to negotiate and resolve.
In that sense, the target audience of his work could be understood to be "the true believer"—that blind adherent of mass movements (described in Eric Hoffer's 1951 book of the same name) who can puzzlingly conjure up equivalent levels of zeal for ideologies interchangeably, as if allegiance to some (or any) cause was more biological drive than the product of rational choice.
Certainly, the most paranoiac variant of this strain has proven a source of endless fascination for Segura. In the seminal essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," Richard Hofstadter articulated the type as follows: "The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization."
That same voice arises repeatedly as a theme in Segura's work, yet he's constantly playing the extremes in order to expose the subtle—widening his sights from the true believer to the average joe. Like the cat that swats endlessly at its captive mouse rather than taking the predator-prey relationship to its logical conclusion, Segura treats our construction of identity, nation, race, religion, and self as a game whose rules become completely elastic once understood as such.
The show's title—"Deceive, Inveigle & Obfuscate"—thus reveals itself as both mantra and strategy for Segura and as decoder ring for the rest of us.
Special thanks to Arena Mexico for their support.