Of the many pieces I love to visit at the Gallery, Let me see the paralysed man walk by Margaret Hudson-Ware is particularly special to me. “Ms. Hudson-Ware” was my art teacher from age 14 to 17 at Cashmere High School. She was a very stylish, bird-like woman – a kind of Coco Chanel in a pant suit. In the eighties, she managed to look utterly timeless; she sculpted her cheeks with burnt umber blush, a colour I could only imagine she’d mixed herself. The whole palette of her clothes and make up was very much what you see in the colours of this work.
Extinction has claimed nearly fifty per cent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s bird species over the past 650 years. The persistent myth has it that European settlement in the nineteenth century swept away a pristine past. And most obviously, because we know their names and can catalogue (literally) their infamy, that story includes the professional bird collectors as the cause of those extinctions.
It is mid-summer in Venice, and the pervasive cacophony of cicada song cuts through the heat and oppressive humidity. New Zealand’s presence at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is housed within the former headquarters of the Instituto di Scienze Marine, the Palazzina Canonica. Located on the Riva dei Sette Martiri, on the southern edge of the island, it is only a few hundred metres to the entrance of the Biennale’s Giardini, with its permanent national pavilions.
Brent Harris is an Australian artist, well known for a practice that explores the productive tension between abstraction and figuration. By locating emotional content in figures that he develops from automatic drawing, his works frequently express an uneasy human subjectivity. But while his imagery deals with intense psychological states, it is often also darkly funny: monsters of the subconscious, both grotesque and ridiculous, rise to the surface in a process of emotional identification and gradual refinement.
The ‘Operation 8’ anti-terror raids in October of 2007 were the culmination of a police investigation that led to the raiding of homes across New Zealand. The raids were conducted after an extended period of surveillance, which was enabled through use of the 2002 Terrorism Suppression Act. In 2013 the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that police had “unnecessarily frightened and intimidated” people during the raids.
I have never seen an artwork reflect something so true. “Things are conspicuous in their absence” is such an uncommonly heard reflection that it is eye-catching. When things are around us, they seem normal and often go unnoticed; the moment they are gone it can be startling and we wake up.
Where to begin when writing or talking about Colin McCahon? I remember seeing one of his paintings for the first time, a North Otago landscape painted deep green with a sunless white sky on a piece of hardboard, hanging at the Forrester Gallery in Ōamaru while on a family trip when I was a young teenager. I felt like I recognised the landscape depicted from what I saw around me growing up, but I hadn’t seen it reduced to something so stark and primal before.
Māori Moving Image: An Open Archive is co-curated by Bridget Reweti and Melanie Oliver. The following text is a conversation between the two curators around co-curating, archives and Māori moving image practice.