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Monday, September 27, 2010


Endgame is the exhibition produced by Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Arts Michael MacGarry for the 2010 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. It is on tour and is currently running at the Durban Art Gallery.

End Game is made up of several films. LHR-JNB deals with four men stuck in a life raft after a plane crash. The Great Man of History Template is a series of three filmed kaleidoscopes that carry the soundtracks of the films Apocalypse Now, The Mosquito Coast and Lord of the Flies. The series is said to explore what happens when white males leave their habitual context and place themselves in new, mainly African contexts which they often exploit for economic gain.

Will to Power investigates the political motivations behind assassinations as well as the common inability of struggle-era veteran leaders to deliver effective leadership without centralised power and a one-party political system A sculpture named Insects Cannot Know Love is also on display. The film-based nature of the exhibition allows the audience to take their time with it. MacGarry describes the viewing experience as a loop: “You may come half way through (a film), this may change the meaning, but it doesn’t matter.”

Nomusa Makhubu – Cue contributing editor - described the exhibition on July 1 in the festival newspaper as follows: “There’s something disquieting about Endgame. The intuitive use of film narratives and three-dimensional installations creates a space in which to reflect on the limits of humanism and uncertain morality in the face of scarce resources. Do moral standards dissipate when all that matters is survival?”

Explaining that Michael MacGarry ‘interrogates the complexity of human instinct in dire circumstances”, she goes on to say: “Hearing the audio while seeing the distorted imagery, which echoes in the form of the hypnotic Mandala, is entrancing. And this hyperbolic geometry embellishes the idea of the unconscious as a parallel of primitive instinct. In these narratives the outsider is simultaneously a hero and an antagonist who seeks to create an ideal world but gradually, through human flaw, contributes to its destruction.”

Michael MacGarry (31) is a Johannesburg-based visual artist, graphic designer and author who draws from various creative wells to unpack and critically analyze contemporary socio-political and economic narratives on the African continent through his visual creations. “From a young age I have always wanted to work across a number of creative fields, from visual art, to design and writing,” he says. “Now as an adult I do work across these fields, but the visual art component allows me to integrate all these elements in producing dense, theatrical and fictional hybrids.”

Acclaimed artist Andrew Verster, National Arts Festival committee member for Visual Art, said: “Michael’s genius is the particular way he transforms an object we know into something completely different, another reality that is still recognisable. At times subtle, at others radical, the new objects are so hypnotic, so plausible, so clever, so tantalising that we can never look at any of his sources in the same way again. We are torn between what we know to be fact and what he offers as an alternative.”

MacGarry holds a Masters Degree in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand, and began his graphic design career in 2000 with Sexton Design & Media in Dublin, Ireland before moving to London in 2002 to join Brockway Associates as a graphic designer. In 2003 he returned to South Africa, and joined The Trinity Session as manager of The Premises Gallery. In 2006 he joined Fever Identity Design in Johannesburg as a graphic designer, where he is currently based.

He is a member of the Johannesburg-based visual art collective Avant Car Guard, who have shown at a national and international level for several years. In partnership with Zander Blom, Michael is also a member of visual arts collaborative Blom & MacGarry Presents. No stranger to the national and international exhibition scene, his art has travelled to Germany, the UK and the USA. His work is housed in numerous private and corporate collections both locally and abroad, including the Seattle Art Museum and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Brodie/Stevenson in Johannesburg represents his visual art career.

Endgame runs at the Durban Art Gallery until November 7. The Durban Art Gallery is situated on the second floor of the Durban City Hall, entrance in Anton Lembede (formerly Smith) Street opposite the Playhouse. More information on 031 311 2262/6.