06 PM | 02 Jun

Dog eat dog eat dog..

WHAT: Dog eat dog eat dog…

WHEN: Opening Wednesday June 6, 6pm Thur June 7-16 (Thur-Sat 11-5), SYDNEY

WHERE: DON’T LOOK Experimental New Media Gallery 419 New Canterbury Rd (Near Marrickville Rd), Dulwich Hill

WHO: Michael Chahine

CONTACT: Greg Shapley – Ph: 0401 152 434 EMAIL: dontlookgallery@gmail.com WEB: myspace.com/dontlookgallery Dog eat dog eat dog… Michael Chahine

In April 2004 in Lucknow India, a corrupt police commissioner decided to mark his birthday by giving away 5000 free saris. During this magnanimous gesture thousands of impoverished women stampeded – twenty one women were killed and hundreds injured. Installed in the gallery window, ‘Happy Birthday Commissioner’ is both a tribute to the women who died in this publicity stunt gone horribly wrong, and a comment on the cheap regard with which life is often held by figures of authority. A floating, shrouded, glowing figure (perhaps a ghost, Hindu Saint or Mother Mary) is given a starling image in place of a face; a distraught mother is holding her dead baby, crushed in the rush to grab a shred of cloth.

…Travelling into the gallery and through Brazil, ‘Copa Cao Bana’ illustrates a disturbing reality: The pampered pets of the Brazilian bourgeoisie are treated better (much better) than the majority of the country’s population. Prissy middle-class matrons parade their precious canines obscenely in front of the homeless and destitute. Life size cut-outs reconstruct this scene for us. The terriers and poodles are immaculately groomed – many have had their fur dyed accentuating the owners’ beliefs that these toys dogs are more human than the filth that line the streets. To the artist, this conspicuous wealth is the ultimate insult to all who are unable to share in this extremity.

…Beyond Brazil we face China ’87 where Ronald Reagan is playing with balls. In this work we have a real photo of a billboard featuring a painting of Roland Reagan (a strong symbol of anti-communist cold war propaganda) advertising Chinese meditation balls. The surrealism of this bizarre juxtaposition is heightened with the inclusion of a stripped box with a protruding mechanical hand that ‘juggles’ two of these balls (a comment on the short surrealist film by Bunuel and Dali entitled ‘Un Chien Andalou’). This piece highlights the artists fascination with the paradoxical and uncanny.


Michael Chahine is an incessant traveller, documenter, and advocate for the little guy. Chanine has been a figure in the Sydney art scene since the 1980s when he bought a warehouse in Lilyfield and invited a number of prominent and up-and-coming artists to move in. This influential movement became known as the ‘White Street Urban Postmodernists’.

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