Alasdair Macintyre’s The Long Martch takes the image of the Stormtrooper from Star Wars and turns it into a commentary on art, politics and society. It sounds like a gas, so we caught up with Macintyre to talk us through it.
Tell us about the concepts behind The Long Martch.
Many factors went into this exhibition, including the mortality rate of art students who go on to become professional artists, reflecting the 90 per cent of the CCP army who didn’t finish the actual long march, which was the original launch point of this show. In a macro sense, the works are about how a generally impassive conscience, like a brainwashed soldier, can be humanised through emotive experiences and an embracing of life and art.
The Stormtroopers play an important role in the works – what makes them a suitable canvas for your commentary?
They are perfect blank canvases! I have always wanted to take to a Stormtrooper with a big fat permanent marker and draw all over it. The concept of the Stormtrooper is perfect for this show – mindless obedience, no individuality, and an icon of our age that people can relate to. In my mind also, that was what ‘stormtrooper’ originally referred to in both World Wars.
Are you a Star Wars fanatic yourself? Was it a childhood obsession?
I am a fan, but not a fanatic. When I was a kid, the Stormtrooper was a rare action figure (one of the original 12 Star Wars figures released in 1977), and after months of searching, I actually found one when my family went to the UK for a holiday, and it became a prized possession… perhaps my trooper obsession stems from that!
What is it about the figurine in tableau that allows you to blur the line between reality and fiction?
I guess that being a Catholic, my upbringing was full of statuary of the saints and Jesus, with also little tableaus of Bernadette in the grotto at Lourdes, Saint Francis and the birds, the crucifixion, et cetera. So these metaphysical experiences were within reach for the devoted viewer.
Is the idea behind your stationary characters to make them more representative of the human experience than the stylised versions of politics and society presented in pop culture like film and television?
Good question. Although these figures have no facial features, I can give them relatable emotions with a simple tilt of the head, or the raising of an arm, and that can make all the difference in conveying an emotion.
The Long Martch is showing at Sullivan+Strumpf, Zetland until Saturday August 9.