Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dat dwatted wabbit

Michael Parekowhai: Jim McMurtry
Maori Hall, Auckland
19 February – 23 February 2008, 12-6 pm.

There are two versions of Jim McMurtry, Michael Parekowhai’s huge inflatable rabbit. This is the prone comatose one: the other, called ‘Cosmo’, is standing. Jim is being exhibited just around the corner from the premises of Michael Lett, Michael Parekowhai’s dealer.

The size of Maori Hall creates a moderately tight fit for this sculpture, so you can come up close or stand back, but are never squashed. It is never claustrophobic.

Tex Avery and Chuck Jones are the great innovative animators of cartoon film - especially of Warner Brothers. Their wonderful distortions of their animal characters' physiognomies make normally alarming violence palatable, if not hilarious. But Jim McMurtry (the name is a spoof on a rural inhabitant: could be a cow cockie; could be a colonial invader) is static - either dead, asleep, or daydreaming, or passed out drunk.

Actually this bunny seems pretty happy if you take the winking left eye and protruding lolling tongue seriously. This horizontal herbivore has been mischievously scheming. Taking over a Maori Hall has made this smug usurper very content indeed.


John Hurrell said...

Here is a comment from Nancy Sutherland:

The names 'Cosmo' and 'Jim' for the McMurtry rabbits made me wonder about 'Jim Crow' first, and then 'Mrs McGregor', whose lettuces the young Flopsy bunnies ate (Benjamin and Flopsy Bunny - - "they had a large family, and they were very improvident and cheerful").
The McMurtry rabbits: mad exploiters, air-heads, greedy, cosmopolitan. They might pop up in or around us, disturbingly, anytime, anywhere?

Mike Weston said...

The delapidated state of the hall, resonated with and was supported by the tired state, and status, of the sculpture. Its Jeff Koons, and little more."ARTFAIRISM", What about the myxomatosis metaphor?
Jim McMurty appears to me as a poisoned, near dead, comic outsider, in a neglected, post colonial maori house of worship, or meeting place... Rotting.. mouldy, misshapen.The juxtaposition is without question clever, but the sentiment jaded and negative although there is some humour in having Michael Lett sitting in this damp shithole while the arterati ponsed in a shared wankery and speculation over it. All up quite a successful gap filler for MP.

John Hurrell said...

Thanks Mike for your comments. Please note this site has a thing about surnames. House rules.

I had the distinct impression the rabbit was happy, but maybe I got it wrong? 'Rotting... mouldy...misshapen'? Sounds a little speculative. Speaking of which you sound very much like one of the 'arterati' yourself. I'd say once you stepped in the hall and laid eyes on that bunny you are automatically 'arterati'. There's no escape, especially if you're reading this.