Michael Parekowhai

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1968
Ngā Ariki Kaiputahi, Ngāti Whakarongo, Rongowhakaata

My Sister, My Self

  • Purchased 2008
  • Fibreglass, mild steel, wood, automotive paint
  • 2700 x 1500 x 1000mm
  • 2008/016.a-c
  • 2006

Michael Parekowhai’s My Sister, My Self recalls a once-common sight in suburban New Zealand front gardens: the concrete seal with a chrome ball on its nose, a home-grown version of the performing circus seal. Connecting to other histories, it also recalls the kekeno, the New Zealand fur seal, which had an unfortunate central role in our pre-colonial past.

At the pinnacle of this spectacular balancing act is a replica of the artist Marcel Duchamp’s famous 1913 Bicycle Wheel – a bicycle wheel upside down on a wooden stool. Duchamp made it for his own pleasure – he liked spinning the wheel in his studio – and later described it as his first ‘readymade’.

(Beasts)

earlier labels about this work
  • ‘My sister, my self’ is a balancing act by one of New Zealand’s renowned sculptural performers. Like many of Parekowhai’s sculptures, this one pays tribute to something ordinary – concrete seals found in suburban front yards. But this South Pacific seal is playing with one of modern art’s most famous ‘ordinary’ objects – the bicycle wheel Marcel Duchamp attached to a stool in 1913 and described as a ‘readymade’. It’s not the first time a version of Bicycle wheel has appeared in Christchurch. In 1967 an exhibition of Duchamp’s works was toured to the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, meeting fierce controversy and even censorship. (Brought to light, November 2009)

    One of Christchurch Art Gallery’s major acquisitions in 2007, My Sister, My Self is a dazzling balancing act by one of New Zealand’s most renowned sculptural performers. Like many of Michael Parekowhai’s sculptures, this one pays tribute to something very ordinary – the concrete seals balancing balls on their noses that can be found in suburban New Zealand front yards. On the nose of this seal, Parekowhai has balanced a copy of one of the most famous ‘ordinary’ objects in modern art – a bicycle wheel which the artist Marcel Duchamp attached to a stool in 1913 and later described as a ‘readymade’.

    (Label from 2007)