Hiko! New Energies in Māori Art

28 May – 18 July 1999

A group exhibition featuring seven emerging Māori artists from Christchurch and around New Zealand.

A group exhibition featuring seven emerging Māori artists from Christchurch and around New Zealand, Hiko! New Energies in Māori Art examines recent developments within contemporary practice.

The exhibition's title, meaning current, power or electricity, alludes to the willingness of many of the selected artists to incorporate new technologies (such as video, sound and computer-generated imagery) into their art-making. Although they are extremely diverse in appearance and subject matter, the works in Hiko! all overtly express their engagement with contemporary issues, culture and technology.

The vibrant, jarring colour combinations in Darryn George's most recent paintings make unmistakable reference to the 1960s, that era of social change and moral experimentation when rules (and authority itself) were questioned by a younger generation. Cloaked within strobing colour fields are softly rendered symbols that operate in contrast to the familiar yet enigmatic images drawn from popular culture gracing the lower corners of the paintings. The optical effect provided by the tonal range and the slightly irregular shape of George's canvasses invites us to consider exactly what it is we are seeing, and perhaps what it is we do not see.

Keri Whaitiri's HOHOKO/ trading terms is a structural interactive sound installation, which presents the Annex space as a whare, with living walls which contain a story and speak to visitors who are willing to listen. Two headsets are positioned on opposite walls of the Gallery. If only one of the sets is used the participant will hear a reading in either Māori or English. However, if both headphones are activated, the two listeners will hear a stereo reading in both languages.

A video camera becomes part of the performance art of Lonnie Hutchinson, who then edits the resulting images into a projected work which retains the immediacy and intimacy of the original. Banal and obscure readymade objects form the basis of enigmatic dioramas in the installation work of Eugene Hansen. Prosaic, commercial articles are provided with a new context suggesting a manufactured and complex landscape with multiple interpretations.

Kirsty Gregg's satirical Big Game paintings tread a playful line between the colliding worlds of art, popular culture and marketing. Using the vivid stripes of provincial rugby jerseys for her background, Gregg places a new spin on the national game by including cautionary phrases outlining the playing rules for successful social interaction. Grace Voller's elegant sand works add a sharp and stylised edge to new interpretations of traditional Māori designs, incorporating materials sourced locally from the Canterbury region. For Olivia Haddon, softly metamorphosing compositions consider issues of genetic modification by exploring the alternative realities which can emerge from a single image.

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