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Hemi Macgregor: Remote Control

Hemi Macgregor: Remote Control

14 August – 8 September 2012

Hemi Macgregor returns to his exceptional sculptural practice to deliver a new exhibition that brings observation and control into the spotlight. Macgregor’s show, Remote Control, opening next week in Wellington focuses on the ‘assisted readymade’, where the artist has re-presented surveillance cameras as elements of Victorian architecture. The original camera is a present and formidable form, which merges into the background of our day to day lives. Macgregor’s sifting of these objects through antiquity brings them to the forefront allowing the observer to consider the role they play in our reality. This increasingly prevalent global phenomenon has come to the fore with the Olympics underway in Britain, where the country currently holds 20% of the world’s CCTV cameras.

Macgregor’s position on recent political events such as the anti-terror raids and the passing of the Search and Surveillance Bill has driven the artist to question the actions of the State and Crown and ask: what are we willing to give up of our personal freedoms?

Using cast Ruru, or native owl forms, Macgregor presents an indigenous opposition to these actions by the State and locates the work in our own back yard; these ‘night watchmen’ observe under the cover of darkness and act as Kaitiaki to the land and the people of right and present dangers.

Remote Control asks viewers to question who is watching and why? Macgregor’s sculptures seamlessly merge the Duchampian idea of the ‘assisted readymade’, with various contemporary understandings of being watched. A number of the works combine modern security cameras with Victorian wrought iron ornamentation. This conscious anachronism demands that the viewer consider the age of this concept, of ‘being observed’ and, given the European ornamental mount, whether this concept is an antiquated way of thinking central to Western ideologies) thinking, or to other cultures as well?

Growing up with this hegemonic system of control, the majority tends to accept the status quo, as it is the majority that has the greatest sway with rule makers. A number of the works in Remote Control feature an owl, rather than a camera. The owl, the internationally recognised watcher of the night, provides viewers of this exhibition with insight, not only into cross-cultural understandings of the need to be watched, but who or what is watching. And for what reason?

Remote Control opens 14 August at Page Blackie Gallery, 42 Victoria Street, Wellington.


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