END GAME: Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2010 Michael MacGarry
Iziko South African National Gallery, 27 March - 15 May 2011
Several years ago, Michael MacGarry wrote: ‘My work investigates the ongoing ramifications of imperialism on the African continent, coupled with the analysis and parody of the socio-political and economic role of political elites within this context as well as the increasingly complicated dynamics attendant on the extraction of natural resources – particularly oil – in African nation-states post-independence’.
MacGarry’s artist statement has remained unchanged in spite of shifts in his working practice. He has been preoccupied with seemingly failed utopias and obsolete technologies, hinting at the ramifications of globalisation. His intention, however, is not to approach colonial practices with nostalgia or cast judgement on past events, but rather to present them in fictional narratives, in order to reclaim and subvert assumptions about particular histories and their closely associated presents. His focus today is more on contemporary political conditions, and less on historical precedents.
Central to his working practice has been a conceptually motivated exclusion of physically realised artworks. Production is instead focused on publishing: ideas, concepts and projects that are described as if they are ‘finished’ but only exist in the form of a series of descriptions. There is no art product in a market-orientated sense, nothing hanging on walls, nothing to buy or sell. Ideas are both the means, and the end.
The aim has been to achieve the ‘perfect crime’ by combining formal seduction (design), conceptual resolve (thought) and readability (entertainment) in one downloadable or printable consumable, much like an album produced by a recording artist.
MacGarry’s work is focused on several key areas of interest, including Angola, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa, and is concerned with investigating how existing and new exploitation of hydrocarbons is in many ways an extension of the colonial-era legacy of Mercantile Capitalism. END GAME presents a comprehensive body of new work which includes film, sculpture, installation, photography and video art.
Michael MacGarry holds a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand, and is a visual artist, graphic designer and film-maker based in Cape Town. With Zander Blom and Jan-Henri Booyens, MacGarry is also a member of the Johannesburg-based visual art collective AVANT CAR GUARD, which has exhibited at a national and international level for several years.
Enquiries: Pam Warne, 021 481-3956, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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