Beneath the radar

Beneath the radar

  • Artist

    Janet Lilo

  • Production Date


  • Medium

    three-channel video, high definition (HD), 16:9, colour, silent

  • Size


  • Credit

    Chartwell Collection, commissioned by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2012

  • Accession Number


  • Accession Date

    03 Oct 2012

  • Department

    New Zealand Art

  • Classification


  • Collection


  • Description

    Janet Lilo is a West Auckland-based visual artist and curator of Māori, Niuean and Sāmoan descent. Her artistic and curatorial practice is deeply rooted in an exploration of popular culture within a localised framework. Collaborations have been a core part of Lilo's practice, which utilises the vernaculars of popular culture and social media. Her vast body of work includes appropriated amateur photography and video from online platforms, stop animation, music videos, vlogs (video logs) and experimental documentary. Recently she has created internet art projects specifically for YouTube, establishing a bridge between global online communities and the local communities of Auckland.

    'Beneath the Radar', 2012 is a three-screen video work inspired by the volcanic field of Auckland which details its traffic, public parks and the coloured rooftops of its suburbs. Borrowing from the idea of travelling undetected through space, the work functions as a 'visual radar', sweeping across and capturing activity and landscape. For Lilo these Auckland landscapes are a point of familarity: 'The sentimental value of these places resonate within me a sense of "home" and belonging. The familiar landscape and era of homes in certain suburbs, where clumps of quintessential weatherboard homes lie, are very Auckland to me. I find it beautiful but I also think about the multicultural communities within these spaces and what the spaces represent to them.'

    Employing a mash-up aesthetic which is characteristic of her vlog works, Lilo peoples the landscapes by superimposing slices from existing videos. Clindren play on swings and ride bikes; groups pose for portraits; and a figure in a high visibility vest rides past on a Segway. The hive of 'underground' activity is a poetic reminder of the histric sustencance of volcanoes and the many pā (stockaded village) sites etched into the folds and ridges of them. The prominence of children and youth are suggestive of childhood memories and the recreational and sentimental values placed on Auckland's volcanic field as historic and contemporary sites of belonging.

    Borrowing the title of the work from New Zealand hip-hop icon Che Fu's third album adds further depth to Lilo's pop-cultural referencing. In various scenes people break dance and gesture over the landscape, drawing a visual parallel with the ways in which hip-hop music is used in Aotearoa New Zealand to assert local identities.

    --Nina Tonga

Exhibition history

More work by Janet Lilo