The Great Divide

Supported by the Australia Council for the Arts

The Great Divide
High Definition, 3-channel stereo (presented as split screen) 57 minutes 2015

The new video work titled The Great Divide, depicts two teams of blow-ins roughing it out in an AFL ball-up and NRL scrum mash-up whilst the off-field antics of the blokes are choreographed to the classic, pub-rock beat of alternative national anthems as heard through the engines of their Ford and Holden vehicles. Renowned sports commentator and rabble-rouser Phil Cleary narrates the on-field action through the naming of moves such as ‘The Leap’ from The Man From Snowy River, ‘The Malcolm and ‘The Wake in Fright’ derived from key scenes taken from cult Australian films.  The Great Divide is Lee’s most ambitious work to date and examines the inherent rivalry within the Australian character and how intergenerational allegiances test the boundaries of larrikinism.

Notes on...The Great Divide
to be expanded

Opus to ten years art practice.
Badlands, Between a Rock, Proving Ground, Bogan Proof Fences, The Sentimental Blokes
Extension of my Ignorant Bliss novel in the same manner as Bogan Proof Fences

57 minute mash-up of Australian cultural iconography through literature, cinema, television and paraphernalia
Inspired by two Australian literary classics;
Barry Oakley’s A Salute to the Great McCarthy, a failed footballer
David Ireland, The Glass Canoe.
Based around a dying pub where men seem forced to be mates

Imagined conversations between blokes if your only context is Australian films
They appear to be acquaintances yet divided by difference
Amateur theatre piece that acknowledges the viewer
The three screens aren't meant to be in sync, they are to seem awkward

Influenced by The Club, The Great McCarthy, The Boys, They're a Weird Mob, Crocodile Dundee, Chopper, Man from Snowy River and Wake in Fright
Confrontations between differing male character types as portrayed in Australian classic cinema
Tribalism, Team Australia and the changing nature of the Australian Archetype

Two points where they acknowledge the viewer
The great artistic divide between theatre, tv and cinema
Cinema traditionally viewed at television as second rate
Theatre as being high brow
Asked Phil Cleary to commentate the game as if it were ABC Grandstand, a game of utter disappointment
Trawling through online forums for incisive comments
Ford versus Holden and Melbourne versus Sydney stereotypes
City versus Country, brand loyalty

  • Battler and Fair Go are from They’re a Weird Mob - film about difference in cultures. Plain packaging colours
  • Inner City and Bushwhacker are John Grant and Mick Dundee
  • Dundee’s lines are from where he meets the transvestite in a NY bar
  • John Grant from where he meets the Cop in Wake in Fright
  • VB only speaks in Boonie Doll language
  • XXXX uses patronising tones from Chopper
  • Party Boy is based on Corey Worthington
  • It was a a toss up between chk chk Boom girl and Party Boy - who seemed most out of place
  • Independent Umpire unites them all - doesn’t see difference
  • Tribalism signified as a Lagerphone inspiring them with the Jacko record I’m an Individual
  • Plays upon their perceived individuality
  • Umpire is aspirational, but gets let down
  • Phil Cleary names the moves after Australian films
  • TV located in the Leinster Arms Hotel Collingwood used in Malcom and referenced by the inflatable glove on a stick
  • Signage is based on the Winfield…anyhow advertising of the 70’s and 80’s reconstituted as plain packaging signage
  • Boot sign is based on the Boot trees created over the years by the Fly in Fly out miners of WA
  • Sign tree also represents the urban myth of shoes over the power lines stating what drugs are available
  • Signpost names are Australian film locations fictional or genuine that I’ve referenced in the work
  • The element of chance that’s throughout my works with attempts to throw the boots over a sign 4mtrs high
  • Competitive games of smokes in the mouth and beer caps in the eye taken from Bogan Proof Fences and The Sentimental Blokes
  • Tattoos are from Revheads. Signify the demise of the two big muscle car brands in Australia
  • The score can be listened to independent to the video and conveys the same narrative
  • Final installation will comprise of 5 screens and be inserted in a landscape that moves from surf to turf, scrub to grub
  • It will be a theatre of the common man.. Barton Fink