Michael Doolan | Boo Who?

16.11.05 to 10.12.05


For the last ten years Michael Doolan has cast a retinue of upscaled characters from toyland in various tableaux illustrating all manner of conflicted, moral dilemmas. There’s Mr Gumby, finger puppets, Lego girls and boys, Pokemon, ET. But the cowboy’s gone rogue, GI Joe is set to ambush the bunnies, and a speeding locomotive is on collision course. A finger puppet lies motionless on the ground. The bears are stupefied, looking on. We are never sure of the particular issue, only an overwhelming sense of conflict. There are no obvious goodies and baddies. It’s uncertain what the teams are, and what the issues are. But it’s all come down to a single, stalled dramatic turning point in the game.In isolation each figure registers a simple emotional state – smiling face, blank stare, grimace. But in their careful, studied arrangement, in the precise craning neck of a bear, the astonished look on a green alien’s face, the slumped resignation of a soft toy, or the rigid bearing of hard plastic aggressor, they act in concert to portray a range of contrary responses to each dire prospect: shock and horror at brutal vengeance; disbelief at the double cross; or a slow dawning that something is dead, has dropped out of a tree ‘splat!’ right in front of them.


There are neither children or adults in these scenes, only conflicted notions of right and wrong, left behind to animate each character, each event, on the teetering verge of morality. It may seem that children’s toys have been arranged according to adult concepts, even that these are emergent moments of adulthood in the games of children, when children might in play become adults, just as the institutions of rational law and morality or war come to structure and over-determine impulse, desire and reflex actions.


Excerpt from Stuart Koop’s essay, 2005