Warren Viscoe

D.S.I.R. Man

D.S.I.R. Man by Warren Viscoe

Artwork Detail

In a recent survey exhibition catalogue, Justin Paton describes Warren Viscoe as 'New Zealand art's resident cultural carpenter', 'not a polemicist of the landscape but its poet - though a poet capable of rising to a fine savagery'. The D.S.I.R. Man is a character from Country Life, an exhibition in which Viscoe unravelled some of the archetypal narratives of New Zealand as a rural haven, a benign producer of food for the northern hemisphere. With a wry smile, Viscoe shatters the illusion that high levels of production, often from land not suited to the purpose, can be achieved without intensive scientific intervention. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research was for many years the well-intentioned and helpful exemplar of serious scientific expertise in the service of the farmers, but the realities of scientific crop-manipulation are seen by Viscoe as slightly sinister and small-brained. Justin Paton again: 'A one-man woodpile, a scrapyard Sylvanus, D.S.I.R. Man is the monstrously funny product of the chemicals with which he sows the land. He's armoured in plates of orange chrome-oxide plywood; DNA chains ripple up his legs; nasty little spurs (each one a twig sprayed into submission with copper oxide) sprout from his ankles; and behind him nests an arsenal of samples . . . a totem of the pastoral dream that has gone wildly awry'. (from The Guide, 2001)

D.S.I.R. Man
Warren Viscoe
Production date
wood, metal
2747 x 392 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1985
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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