Sport 4: Autumn 1990
Occupied zone exhibition at Auckland's Artspace (1989).
The other work in the Quay Street space was a sculptural installation by Judy Darragh. She chose a small annex, so Dashper grabbed the big room. Framed by the otherwise vacant white space, freshly painted by the artist, the few words which comprised the work appeared portentous. DRIVE was written big, in a gimmicky seventies typeface, high up, in the centre of the main wall. The word was presented like some kind of altarpiece, to be approached reverentially. Yet such reverence seems ridiculous given the banality of the face, and the crassness of the sentiment.
DRIVE could be a reference to Dashper's much noted career as a taxi driver (other works draw on this biographeme). DRIVE, a brand of washing powder, is a smart reference to McCahon's Rinso packet. And of course DRIVE also parades Dashper's careerism.
On another wall we find 'the label', similarly sign-written: 'Building. A type / Julian / Dashper'. The surname is reversed out of a black block. Around three edges of this block, the masking tape has been left on, as if the signwriter — the same man employed by Billy Apple — was still waiting for the paint to dry. But surely this tape is a reference to the legendary masking tape McCahon used in executing Here I give thanks to Mondrian and other works.
These references are simply references, simple references. They do not enlarge upon one another. The work has nothing to say about what it refers to, though this becomes a kind of comment in its own right. The references are oblique as well as obscure. It is not the works proper which are invoked, so much as the stories surrounding them. McCahon supposedly copied his speech bubble from a Rinso packet. Dashper quotes not a speech bubble, but another brand of washing powder. Dashper refers not to the aesthetic of Here I give thanks to Mondrian, but gets off on a technicality. He leaves the masking tape on as an allusion to what McCahon took off.
Dashper buys his imperial suit at the opportunity shop of art history. Transparent, his practice is nevertheless resolute. In the words of the New Testament, 'he has built himself up through faith'.
Julian Dashper. Artist
The meek will inherit the earth