Ralph Hotere

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1931, d.2013
Te Aupōuri, Muriwhenua, Māori

1984 No. 9

  • Purchased, 1984
  • Reproduced by permission of the Hotere Foundation Trust
  • Mixed media on paper on stainless steel
  • 700 x 700mm
  • 84/18
  • 1984

A protest work responding to the anti-nuclear debate, this work challenges the acceptance into New Zealand ports of nuclear-powered US submarines and cruisers equipped with Polaris missiles. Hotere uses the scratched stainless steel plate to suggest the sinister and uncompromising technology of the warship, whilst the weathered frame and delicately scorched paper allude to the fragility of the natural world and the impact of political decisions. A strong vertical in the centre of the work could suggest a periscope or the explosive thrust of a missile which have been 'crossed out' by the artist. The highly reflective surface, on which the scratched lines create a sparkling moving pattern of light, is a device often used by Hotere as a mirror or window through which we can examine our own actions and beliefs.