Ronnie van Hout

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1962

The Thing

  • 2009
  • Mixed media
  • Gift of the artist, with thanks to Antarctica New Zealand and Ivan Anthony Gallery, 2018
  • 2018/021:a-b

In 2007, Ronnie van Hout travelled to the Antarctic on an artist’s residency. He came back with the idea for The Thing, a work about isolation and paranoia which refers to the cult science-fiction film of the same name directed by John Carpenter in 1982 – once described as the most hated movie ever made. Based on a 1938 novella by John W. Campbell, Who Goes There, Carpenter’s film tells the story of a 10,000-year-old parasitic alien who infiltrates and imitates other life forms, throwing a remote colony of scientific researchers into murderous turmoil as they suspect each other in turn of having been assimilated. In Van Hout’s The Thing, a solitary figure who looks a lot like the artist sits glumly in a containment hut. We get the impression that he’s been there for some time, waiting in the dark. Has the Thing taken him over? Will we see it in one of the documentary videos screening nearby that reveal daily life in the ice-bound colony? The door to the hut is locked, and it seems sensible to keep it that way.

(Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • The Thing was created especially for 'Who Goes There', Van Hout's 2009 exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery. Curator Justin Paton wrote: "Van Hout extends his network of domestic spaces to include one based on his experience at the 'end of the earth'