Bottled Ocean

15 September – 29 October 1995

Twenty-three emergent artists have united to create Bottled Ocean, an exhibition of contemporary New Zealand Polynesian art exploring the theme of 'Pacific Islandness' in New Zealand. While each artist presents their individual approach to the theme, there is a shared dual concern with their New Zealand home and their cultural ties to the Pacific Islands; Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cooks. Collectively they feel a tidal pull from the Pacific, yet as artists they also have a need to position themselves within and against the modern tribal art market .... Therefore their art explores the yet uneasiness left from the blurred identity, their assumed heritage and their urban experience.

Bottled Ocean is a multi-media installation which cleverly brings the metaphor of the ocean into the gallery, as the exhibition is held as water within four clear walls. It is but a small part of the vast whole. This effect is heightened by a soundtrack of the Pacific Ocean, created by Wayne Laird, which permeates throughout the exhibition. Also accompanying Bottled Ocean is a video entitled South Pacific Festival 1993.

Bottled Ocean was originally conceived in 1992 when the touring organisation Exhibitour approached the South Pacific Arts Committee of Te Waka Tui/Arts Council of New Zealand seeking a partnership to develop and tour and exhibition of contemporary works by Pacific Island artists. Together they offered Rarotongan New Zealand artist Jim Vivieaere the opportunity to curate and co-ordinate such an exhibition. After travelling around New Zealand in 1993 Vivieaere developed the collective work Bottled Ocean. With the assistance of the City Gallery Wellington, where the exhibition opened in May 1994, the project was developed for touring in 1994-1995. Bottled Ocean then continued to Auckland City Art Gallery and other North Island venues.

Throughout its tour Bottled Ocean is presented in constantly changing formations which are an integral feature of the show. New works from each area may be added or works deleted to remain in keeping with the spirit of 'currentness' of the project. The exhibition is installed site specifically into each venue and overseen by Jim Vivieaere.

It is hoped to involve some of these artists in floor talks. If this is possible, they will be advertised at a later date.

('Bottled Ocean', Bulletin, No.97, August/September 1995, pp.4-5)

This exhibition was held at the McDougall Art Annex in the Arts Centre.