In the early 1980s McCracken’s father took the Alpine Shire and the small township of Myrtleford (Victoria, Australia) to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, contesting the proposed construction of a 17 metre concrete snowman. The big snowman reflects the anxiety of identity experienced by rural Australian towns after the construction of the post Second World War road networks in Australia. As they lost their train-lines and were bypassed or driven though, many Australian towns felt like they were slipping off the map of Australia and fading into economic ruin. The big snowman was part of a tradition, inherited from the United States, of big sculptures in small townships, designed to put these communities on the tourist map by trapping the passing car in awe. Ultimately, McCracken’s father was successful and the giant snowman was never built; however, an estimated 300 ‘big things’ were installed from the 1960s on, and many still line Australian rural roadsides.
The fight over the giant snowman was lengthy and vicious: a conflict that gave McCracken her first nickname – “Snowman Killer” – which plagued her early years of school. Snowman Killer combines performance, sculpture, photography, film and storytelling to present the archive from the original snowman controversy, McCracken’s memories of the ordeal and a 7500 km road trip she took with a big carrot – a to-scale representation of the nose of the never constructed snowman – across Australia visiting ‘big things’. In doing so the work also explores the architectural, social, emotional, gendered and environmental impact of the car on rural Australia throughout the second half of the 20th century.
A sample of the audio work that this project turned into is below. If you would like a copy of the whole audio work, so that you can listen to it while driving, please contact the artists – email@example.com.
CREDITS: Lead artist, writer and producer Clare McCracken // documentation of performances Andrew Ferris.
Clare is currently looking for exhibition opportunities for Snowman Killer.