Janet Lilo visual artist

Crouching boys 2017




Inspired by old sporting photographs found on Google image search, the Crouching Boys are based on three Washington wrestlers from the late 50’s and early 60’s. Left to right is Buddy, Steve and Dick. They’re posing for a team photo that was probably destined for a year book or school corridor wall and not the internet. For that reason I am intrigued by the innocence and display of masculinity in their stance and the fact they are not facing the camera. They come across as confident but also quite gentle.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my three sons and what kind of men they will grow up to be. I’ve also been thinking about my role as their mother and the things I need to do to help them become good people. Good men. I also wonder how they will choose to carry themselves in the digital world and how they will meet and treat others (and also treat themselves). I know – it’s problematic to even begin to negotiate what constitutes good people, a good man or mother in today’s landscape because it means something different to everyone. It’s also silly think more about them in the future when I should try to enjoy and understand them now while we have each others attention.

At the moment, my two oldest sons love soccer, iPad, Star Wars, nice cars, making sound effects with their mouths and wrestling each other in the lounge. They also spend time reading, writing stories and drawing. We don’t have a TV at home or a PS4 console (like everyone else) and our ten year old tells me that  some of his friends have smart phones. But, we do have every necessity, own our own home, go on small holidays, organise play-dates and give them as much time and love as we can. We are a middle-class family with a lot of privilege. I often struggle with that because I grew up in a big family that didn’t have much money or time to spare because my parents were too busy working their fingers to the bone in factories, supermarkets and cleaning jobs. There was a lot of love but also a lot of dark space that naturally comes with hardship – and my kids will never know that.
Something I am quite proud of is the fact that my boys are exposed to a lot of interesting people from different walks of life. All of whom contribute just as much as I do to their understanding of life and what it could be.


The Crouching Boys were on display outside the Artspace building on Karangahape Road as part of Offsatge 8 exhibition curated by Cameron Ah Loo-Matamua. Thank you to Cameron, Tautai and Artspace for supporting this work. And to all the people who engaged with it via crouch pics and vandalism.


Insta people



#hadto #goals #needawall #needsomefunding #keepitgoing





In my initial proposal, I pitched for a giant melted pen on the side of Artspace’s building. Due to the expense of production, the pen was denied. Fair enough – it was a total stretch for a limited budget and an unfair request in a short group show context. BUT, that’s okay because it’s part of the process when troubleshooting projects. Even when things don’t happen – you learn a lot about the processes needed to achieve something new. And sometimes it’s just a next time thing.

At the time I was invited to be a part of this exhibition, I found this pen in a Laundromat near my home. It was lying on the floor next to an open dryer. I put two and two together and started to think about who it may have belonged to and whether it melted in a pair of jeans or shirt pocket. I picked it up and put it in my jacket pocket for later, feeling like I’d won a small lotto with such a beautiful object. I was doing another community art project organised by my collective, Whau the People. I’d been making custom bumper stickers for Laundromat patrons as they waited for their clothes to wash and dry across a number of laundromats in my area.


Another work I started at the time and yet to finish.

HD video animation still of a sports team photo. To be continued.




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