Matthew 12:12 Live Wellington, 2007, installation view, 12 live sheep and picket fence
New Art New Zealand-Telecom Prospect 2007, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, NZ
The role of man and sheep has important connotations for New Zealand in both historical and contemporary contexts. Together they have transformed New Zealand’s rugged natural environment into a highly productive agricultural country. It has been an ongoing exercise—and the result is an industry that shaped not only the land but also the cultural and economic identity of New Zealand. The sheep population has grown, and declined, to the present ratio of twelve sheep to every person.
The ‘Matthew 12:12’ series sets up a platform where these usually aesthetically invisible beings, sheep, challenge our conventional means of perception. The work is ambiguous and destabilizes the usual one-way gaze, creating the possibility for reciprocal observation. The public is challenged to consider whether what they are looking at is ‘art’, ‘nature’, an aesthetic composition, or a functional undertaking.