The Great Man of History Template
Three-channel video installation – HD video transferred to DVD, Continuous loop
Colour, stereo, 25 fps, PAL
Edition 5

Above, from left:
Apocalypse Now (153 minutes); The Mosquito Coast (114 minutes); Lord of the Flies (117 minutes)

“Ice! Civilisation!”

- Allie Fox played by Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast (1986), directed by Peter Weir.

Although this work relates quite closely – in terms of subject, though not formally – to a recent work titled LHR-JNB, The Great Man of History Template started life much earlier with the artwork titled Heart of Darkness, from 2000. It was based on Nicolas Roeg’s 1993 film adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and was filmed through a kaleidoscope with the original audio intact.

This distant video and the recent film have together prompted the development of a new work – namely, a series of three individual films that collectively make the three channel video installation titled The Great Man of History Template. Consisting of the artworks Apocalypse Now, The Mosquito Coast and Lord of the Flies – all works are feature length films and contain the original audio of their source material entirely intact, with the visuals rendered through a kaleidoscope as detailed in Heart of Darkness.

This suite of films collectively and individually articulate and unpack popular, Western cultural representations of white males entering, occupying and attempting to coerce various developing and third world contexts. Also of concern is the threat of danger, disaster and chaos attendant on the historical, colonial archetype of this activity. Though the western canon is strewn with a litany of examples of this subject, the chosen source material in the literary works The Mosquito Coast, Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness – as mediated through the three original motion picture versions – detail the Oedipal consequences of white males abandoning Western morality – namely liberation, closely followed by moral and social chaos, individual mental collapse and ultimately a gruesome death.


Michael MacGarry, contemporary African art, African art, contemporary art, Africa, sculpture