Editorial: Road Kill, Imitating Life - or Death? - Publication: FHM Magazine - Date: June 2001

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Not even roadkill can rest in peace with Australian artist Jason Rogers. A mix of Damien Hurst and Crocodile Dundee, Rogers is a specialist in transforming native Australian roadkill into art, including dead Kangaroos, cows, foxes, insects, birds and the occasional (live) human.

Paint and installation artist Rogers’ travelling exhibition "Sparkle Life" has been shown to mixed reviews at venues in Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo and his hometown Sydney. He’s also been responsible for some colorful art pranks including dumping a blue dead cow outside Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art and an orange shark in a city shopping mall. Yet Jason can’t understand the response of some irked art viewers, "It’s a bit like getting melancholy every time you eat a piece of steak, " he says.

How do you create your art?
The idea came to me when I’d catch 2 inch cockroaches crawling around my kitchen in my Bondi apartment in Sydney. Instead of killing them on sight I started to spray paint them in order to track whether the same ones were re-visiting. Instead of exterminating them, I was personalizing them, which gave me the idea I could work up the food chain to bigger animals. Driving to the outback I spray paint the roadkill, and move the beast to leave an imprint on the road, it’s my modern day take on Aboriginal cave paintings. Then, because you can’t be there to see the installation, I photograph them and do larger than life photographic prints.

Do you have a day job?
I work in the film industry as a Creative Lighting Technician and have worked on a range of international and Australian films and commercials as costume designer, director and cinematographer.

Any other claims to fame?
Yeah I worked on Crocodile Dundee I and it’s forgettable sequel, plus Mad Max II and III and actually designed those mad earrings that Tina Turner wore.

What does the road mean to you?
Even though I’m from Australia, I’ve found that the open road is generally the same throughout the planet. It’s a world of stark contrast, and can be a place of death and brutality or one of grace and tranquility depending on who you’re with, where you are and of course the type of car you drive. I do a lot of thinking when I’m driving which is more often than not alone. Most of my driving is done in a modified SRX Mitsubishi which saw me doing in excess of 150 Mph on occasion, though that’s a fair speed for driving thousands of miles throughout Australia, some of the harshest land on earth. It’s the best way to cover a lot of ground and scout for roadkill, the source of my art.

What carcass sells the best?
The Kangaroo is my signature art piece. I’ve sprayed them iridescent pink, orange and red where they lay on the road. The image has sold well at all my shows. Its also been used in a number of international arts publications and on the Internet.

Does it scare children?
Once there was a large moveable billboard made of the Orange Roo which sent a little boy crying to his mother saying that someone had killed ‘Skippy’ (a 70s Australian program a bit like Lassie, only using ‘Skippy the bush kangaroo’).

How about adults?
Some, but its rare. I don't think its that graphic because I've seen it in real life, but some people can be offended, yet on the other hand just as many people are delighted by the beauty, seeing it as a sign of respect and acknowledgment. Coloring roos grants them an identity, even though their dead its my idea of taxidermy, encouraging thoughts about their existence, the people they live off and who live off them.

How do you find the animals?
I find a lot of my materials on the road, I grab a map, plan a route and go, armed with spraypaint, a digital and video camera. Most of the animals have been killed by larger trucks that run from state to state, they’re usually pretty easy to spot, road carnage is an everyday experience in this environment.

Written by Craig Stephens

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