|Untitled from Clockwork Zombies Series oil on board, approx 300 x 300 mm, 2005|
|Rebecca Pilcher Clockwork Zombie
paintings and moving image: 31 August 24 September, 2005
“Working in central city Wellington, what struck me was the relentless flow of people out of the train station off to work early in the morning. The sullenness and the collective concentration of the Monday morning effort to get to work gradually clearing as Friday approaches. There is a kind of uniformity and automation occurring here that can be quite unsettling when you take time to notice it.”
Rebecca Pilcher put in many weeks in office jobs in the urban canyons around Lambton Quay while completing her postgraduate fine arts degree at Massey Wellington. The experience has shaped her next exhibition at Idiom Studio, in which business-shirted executives appear to struggle in the grip of primitive forces.
“I’ve recently been watching George Romero's zombie flicks, which show ordinary people taken over by forces which drive them all to do the same things. There’s a sense of patterns repeating, and frustration at not being able to break the surface.”
Many of these stark, high-contrast paintings are finished with a thick layer of clear varnish, so they seem like freeze-frames from a low-budget horror movie about mutating office workers. “I see the layers of varnish and paint as references to a type of skin. The zombie imagery highlights how the body is just a skin or a veneer. And I was interested in producing paintings that have a film-like quality but still act as paintings.”
As an art student, Rebecca worked mainly in time-based media such as digital video, and her current exhibition includes an example of this kind of work. She says, “I am interested in the tension between using a traditionally saleable medium, paintings, and trying to keep the tensions and interests I have been pursuing in my time-based work. For me, the glossy surfaces of these paintings echo the seductive quality of moving images.
“I am interested how seemingly normal things can become strange. The situations we see as normal can in fact be quite alien and hilarious.”