Whitecliffe lecturers Kelly Pretty and Matt Dowman are working together as artists and grassroots activists, posing confronting questions about social welfare, gentrification, political turmoil and global injustice. Together they form the collective ‘Tiger Murdoch’ referring to the surname of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and ‘tiger’ referring to an action or cartoon character name. We talked with Kelly and Matt about their collaboration and recent projects:
How did Tiger Murdoch come about?
We have been working together for the last 2 years. We think that people, especially artists, can achieve more working collectively. We decided to ‘work’ under another identity so that it’s not always about us - we want to work against the ego-driven art thing. Through our projects and campaigns, we want to get away from the hierarchies that govern culture and critical thinking in the art world.
What are your projects about?
We want to create thought provoking ‘street’ art as a response to inequality, political and social issues here in New Zealand. These issues run parallel with similar issues of concern around the world. Our goal is to reach an audience and raise awareness. We don’t have a solution to these global and national problems, but through repetition – media and propaganda are repetitious- our aim is to make our work, images and statements accessible to our audience through hashtag campaigns, flyers, posters, street art etc. Propaganda usually has a negative connotation as it is used on people to manipulate into accepting a message. We would like to think our propaganda is the start of a conversation which also talks about the politics and ownership of public and private spaces i.e. galleries and museums vs. public space.
For example, our work submitted for the 2016 National Contemporary Art Award (at the Waikato Museum) was made up of 1,568 posters (in a grid) that were pasted in the gallery. The number signifies 1% homeless in New Zealand as of the June 2015 estimate. We then translated 1% of Hamilton's population as a figure specific to the site and location of the Gallery. The posters highlight the rising inequality in New Zealand. “A Brighter Future” was our tagline, referring to the 2008 campaign of the National Party. Our goal is to make the invisible visible.
What are your plans for future projects?
Recently, we were finalists in the 2016 National Contemporary Art Award and are included in the New Perspectives exhibition curated by Simon Denny at Artspace, alongside a number of other artists. We are sending work to the US for the ‘Artists without Borders’ 3rd International Mail Art Project exhibition 28 October – 25 November. This year, the exhibition focuses on the subject of ‘freedom’.
For more information about Tiger Murdoch, please follow their Instagram page.