Gary Perkins

Gary Perkins, Proposal for the Remake of a Classic British War Movie, 1999

Gary Perkins, Proposal for the Remake of a Classic British War Movie, 1999

Gary Perkins's (b. 1967, Manchester, UK) artist statement for TRACE...

At the centre of the Western Approaches Control Room is a landscape: one that was both a changing political and geographical map, secret and secreted away. Through the 1940’s this was a representation of a time and place like no other, one that changed and shifted daily and even hourly in response to the dramatic horizons, places and narratives happening in real time across thousands of square miles to thousands of lives. These events were controlled and monitored from various positions at HQ, but our attention is inevitably drawn towards the simple, primary-coloured boat shapes that are pushed and pulled across the scene like the chips collected by the croupier at a roulette table. Comparisons to Greek gods – or their contemporary political counterparts – are difficult to ignore.

A large model of a submarine (2 metres long) and a German U-Boat, rusted and displaced, rest on the bodies of crushed, burnt-out cars. Nearby, a tank and a Stuka bomber – again German WWII – have also come to rest on a collection of wrecked Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Honda cars. The turret of the tank rotates slowly as it looks for a target. Is this a defensive tactic? The body of the vehicle has already been scarred, possibly by petrol bombs or by the burnt wrecks crushed beneath it. The aeroplane, in contrast, seems to have dropped into the scene. It isn't going anywhere with a rusted engine and twisted propellor blades. A large truck circa 1950 represents the only real possibility of movement. It may be the worse for wear, but is apparently mobile judging from its unlikely cargo of furniture.

As with previous works we are given further insight into the scene by virtue of a collection of miniature colour and black-and-white video cameras that are sealed within the interiors of many of the models. On a simple monitor nearby we are taken inside the submarine’s apparently still operational engine room; into the turret of the moving tank – more confined and less secure than you might imagine – and into the driving seat of the truck, a crashed car, and the cockpit of the plane. Our point of view changes, constantly moving us into and then out of the models. Perceptions of scale and place shift unexpectedly. Our sense of time is disrupted by the live images, which are reminiscent of fleeting moments from a war movie. This sense of temporal and physical disorientation could not be more different from the god-like vision of allied and enemy warships in the defunct Control Centre. Here, the model-maker's versions of the real open up the official history to the possibility of other, less determined, narratives.

Gary Perkins at Liverpool Biennial 1999

Proposal for the Remake of a Classic British War Movie
, 1999
Plastic 1:24th scale kit models, colour and b/w video cameras, colour monitor, 488 x 122 cm table
Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery London