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MICHAEL PAREKOWHAI

Jim McMurtry

26th Jul 2014 - 9th Nov 2014

Jim McMurtry is an enormous cartoon rabbit, 12 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, lying flat on his back with one eye closed and his tongue hanging out. Audiences are made to question whether he is dead or simply taking a nap? This blown up creature, by one of this country’s most significant contemporary artists, has been exhibited all over the world in places such as Canada, South Korea and Lithuania as well as numerous locations throughout New Zealand. 

Michael Parekowhai (b. 1968 Porirua, New Zealand) is one of this country’s most significant contemporary artists. His practice, which spans almost two decades, moves across a range of disciplines including sculpture, installation and photography. Parekowhai’s work is celebrated for its meticulous finish, use of distinctive proportions, colloquial charm and a quirky, but often subtle, sense of humour. His works may appear simple, both aesthetically and in execution, but this is deceptive; Parekowhai plays with perception the same way that he tests expectations of everyday items, scale, and the comfort zone of his audiences. His works are layered with meaning and test many boundaries by simultaneously highlighting the ordinary, questioning historical and cultural traditions and experimenting with the boundaries of industrial fabrication. 

Jim McMurtry is an enormous, 12 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, cartoon rabbit that showcases many elements of Parekowhai’s practice. There are two versions of the inflatable bunny, the other is Cosmo McMurtry who stands upright and is part of the National Gallery of Victoria collection, while Jim McMurtry lies flat on his back with one eye closed and his tongue hanging out. Viewers feel unsure as to whether he is dead or is simply taking a nap. Here, Parekowhai reminds us of the rabbit’s considerable and destructive impact on New Zealand when it was introduced in the nineteenth century. It may have similarities to a cute Walt Disney or Beatrix Potter creation but Jim McMurtry raises questions about a particular point in New Zealand's past and more specifically about Colonialism. This blown up creature has been exhibited all over the world in places such as Canada, South Korea and Lithuania as well as numerous locations throughout New Zealand. 

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