Drawn from simple encounters on the streets of Christchurch, for Hit me with your best shot Janet Lilo meshes the covers of discarded cassette tapes; a series of polaroid portraits; and the chance meeting of a young man practicing tightrope in the park. The installation documents her interactions and readings of this place, incorporating responses to the objects, architecture and individuals that she happened upon during a recent visit to the city. Lilo highlights how public space is accessed and mediated through personal observations and experiences, showing that a community is formed from the interrelationships of people from all walks of life.
Wandering the central city and talking with anyone happy to engage, the photographs that feature in the exhibition also consider the nature of time, history and politics of representation. Each image contains within it another photographic image of the same individual, taken on polaroid just moments before, confidently held aloft and foregrounded for the viewer. These snapshots that are instantly captured moments of the past, heighten the sense of ephemerality that is inherent to photography and empower the subject through exposing the process of representation; expanding the relationship between subject, photographer and audience.
With Hit me with your best shot, there is a double take: these are words of encouragement for the subject to present themselves well in the photographic shot; but also a challenge – go on, hit me. This element of tension is held within the image of the tightrope walker and acts as a metaphor for those operating in the post-earthquake conditions of Christchurch. Precariously balanced on a line of rope strung between two trees, he moves forwards and moves on, ever aware of the ground beneath.
Janet Lilo is a social commentator whose artistic documentary practice is grounded in the local while simultaneously being informed by global media and popular culture. Her work has been seen on carefully placed monitors and random objects in gallery spaces, projected onto the sides of buildings, in museums, empty flats and backyards; on television, displayed in shop windows, on the Internet and fabricated into bus stops and billboards. Her practice consistently documents people and place in the blur of public and private settings – from filming a fleet of night-time dancers in a historical arcade in Japan to re-inacting a break-up scene from the movie Twilight in Porirua using two complete strangers cast through an email callout and re-editing worldwide YouTubers singing infectious pop songs in their bedrooms.
Lilo graduated from AUT University with a Master of Art and Design in 2007. She has held solo shows in New Zealand, Japan, the Cook Islands and online. Her four-channel video installation Park Life was included in the 2007 Wellington City Gallery Telecom Prospect exhibition and she has had work in major group exhibitions in Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, France, Germany and the United States of America. Lilo was a delegate to the 10th Festival of pacific Art in Pago Pago, 2008; a recipient of the first Asia NZ Japan residency program in Sapporo, 2009; a recent artist in residence at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia; Pasifika artist in residence at the Massey University Wellington College of Creative Arts (2012) and winner of the Creative New Zealand Contemporary Pacific Art Award 2011.