Ralph Hotere’s art charted his journeys throughout Aotearoa and the world, reflecting on his experiences, identity and politics. As the first major survey exhibition of Hotere’s artistic career for over twenty years, Ātete celebrates his achievements and brings his vision to a new generation. It’s been a huge project to bring together so we thought it was timely to ask the four curators to tell us a little about their relationship with Hotere – how do they connect as individuals with the artist’s works, and the themes and the locations that they explore?
Nathan Pōhio: We’re going to do this whānau styles.
Areta Wilkinson: Totally. We’re going to indigenise the interview process.
NP: Tēnā koe Areta, ngā mihi nui. Your project Moa-Hunter Fashions is primarily concerned with, or comes from, thinking around whakapapa and geological history, so let’s start by talking about that, and how it pertains to what you’re doing in the exhibition.
An online series of moving image works exploring social distance and personal environments including works from Xin Cheng, John Chrisstoffels, Conor Clarke, Ronnie van Hout, Sonya Lacey, Janet Lilo, Sione Monu, James Oram, Nova Paul, Bridget Reweti, Sriwhana Spong and Matavai Taulangau.
Every few years, the curatorial team at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū embarks on a major rehang of the first-floor collection area. It’s no small undertaking finding fresh ways to combine long-held, well-known works and new acquisitions, looking for combinations that will offer compelling viewing, immersive storytelling and intellectual engagement to our wide and evolving visitor base. This time, director Blair Jackson added another dimension to our task, challenging us to reimagine the physical orientation of the spaces to encourage visitors to interact with the architecture in a completely different way.
It’s been interesting observing how nature has quietly but very quickly reclaimed the earth since we have all gone into Covid-19 lockdown. My social media timelines have been peppered with images of animals wandering where humans can’t, boars roaming in Barcelona, peacocks in Dubai, deer in Japan and schools of tiny fish in the now clear waters of Venice to name a few. Related of course are the clearing skies around the world.
Hawaiki is the ancient homeland of Polynesian people who navigated the seas in double-hulled waka from Rarotonga, Tahiti and Ra’iātea to the islands of the Pacific Ocean, including Aotearoa New Zealand.
In te ao Māori, the state of a space when cleared of obstruction is called ātea. This concept was brought to Aotearoa New Zealand from the islands of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa / the Pacific Ocean by Polynesian ancestors.
In te ao Māori, portraiture can encompass rangatiratanga (stewardship), whanaungatanga (kinship or connectedness), manaakitanga (kindness towards others) and whakapapa (ancestral genealogy). A sense of wairua (the spirit of a person) also resonates within these treasured portraits.