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Our Potential Allies [Version 1]

Peter Callas

Our Potential Allies (1980), dual monitor installation, 15:00 mins. Reconfigured for single screen (1999).

Various locations including
The Sydney Studio (1981);
Australian Perspecta (1981) Art Gallery of NSW Sydney;
“Portopia 81”, Kobe, Japan (1981);
“Vision in Disbelief”, 4th Biennale of Sydney (1982);
“Parallel Universes”, Queensland University of Technology (2012);
“Digital Aesthetic”, Preston, UK, (2012)

Our Potential Allies draws upon a well established history of Western colonial intervention, anthropological speculation and missionary zeal, while proposing an intuitive and ironic critique of Eurocentric belief-systems founded upon the dichotomy of self (the West) and the Other. Western conceptions of the ‘primitive’ are played out by Callas and juxtaposed with archival footage of tribal and Asiatic peoples. Callas appears on the left monitor in black and white facial paint - the so-called ‘mask of primitivism’ - while compressed news imagery appears upon the right. Facial gestures are enacted by the artist in response to unheard comments beyond the screen, or to a voice-over and imagery on the right monitor. Questions of intent - a constant theme throughout Callas’ career - are thus raised in relation to the creation of apparently random meaning.1

  • 1. Rachel Kent from “Peter Callas: Initialising History, video works 1980-1999”
Frames from Our Potential Alllies. (Australian Perspecta). (c) Peter Callas.
Frames from Our Potential Alllies. (Australian Perspecta). (c) Peter Callas.