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Object: Ritual

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Title Ritual
Production Driver, Don (artist), 1982, New Plymouth
Medium summary plastic, fabric, bone, steel, iron, rubber, leather, paint, wood and straw with audio component
Materials steel, plastic, wood, bone, straw, cloth, rubber, iron, hair
Classification sculpture, installations, assemblages
Technique assemblage
Dimensions Overall: 1760mm (Height) x 2210mm (Length) x 2480mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Purchased 1989 with New Zealand Lottery Board funds
Registration number 1989-0034-1

Ritual is a large-scale sculpture by Don Driver consisting of ten 44-gallon drums surmounted by doll figures with goat-skull heads all set on a dray. Hay on the ground completes the work, which has an enigmatic relationship to art and the gallery. As Jim and Mary Barr wrote in 1999: 'Ritual seems to have a more sinister purpose, trekking endlessly through the order and mock neutrality of twentieth century, white cube, art galleries. Somewhere, at some time, these gods took the wrong turn . . .'

Two traditions of art
Two traditions of art meet in Ritual. One tradition is the custom of ritual parades of powerful religious or fetish figures before a crowd of believers - common to many cultures with which Driver is familiar. The other is the modern western art practice of bricolage - the use of diverse objects in art gallery assemblages. Driver's installations often suggest that the functions of the fetish and the artwork are not significantly different from each other.

A controversial work
Driver's Ritual has been a controversial and confrontational work since it was commissioned by the National Art Gallery in 1982. When it was first installed, the gallery's education officer assured visitors that 'The artist insists that the work has no black magic or sinister overtones.' It was also noted that a security guard working in the gallery was in the habit of modestly adjusting the genital-revealing skirts of the doll figures.

Te Papa owns twenty works by Driver, including other installation works and large wall hangings.

Related information

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