The parallelism of English and Maori is a regional feature of New Zealand, and the latter has been the main common language until the 20th century. This also shows to a certain extent the revolutionary spirit of the local people to adhere to the decolonization of national independence and freedom. Local artists tell their stories, experiences and feelings in their own language.
Ruth Buchanan’s exhibition “Where Does My Body Belong” reveals the power mechanism behind canonization through powerful works. She selected about 300 works from the 50-year-old Govett-Brewster Art Museum collection in New Plymouth and displayed them in five pavilions every 10 years. The overall classification of these works reflects from the side that those in power pay more attention to the works of white male artists, while the indigenous or female artists are ignored. Instead of using wall tags to mark the works, Buchanan printed the works and their detailed information, exhibition history, etc. on the pamphlet. She doesn’t deliberately highlight individual works, but as a whole shows institutional discourse that both expresses and dilutes identity.
Similarly, a similar exhibition-“Māori’s Motion Pictures: Open Archives” was held at the Christchurch Art Museum, focusing on Aboriginal culture and exhibiting animation, film and video works by 19 Māori artists over the past 40 years. As a clarification of the misunderstanding and misuse of Maori culture by white artists. The Trawa artist Ana Iti uses a 20-minute video to show contemporary perceptions of the indigenous people, and uses perspective to record the exhibition of Maori art works in a historical museum, expressing a kind of ignorance of racial sovereignty and independence. Silent protest.
The three-channel video work of artist Natalie Robertson photographed an over-deforested town shrouded in mist, expressing regret for the desecration of the mysterious land that records tribal history. Terri Te Tau’s installation is designed to show a nationwide search of Maori people. Viewers can enter a black van, and a video is shown on the windshield, simulating the situation of a Maori home being broken into by anti-terrorist police. Rachael Rakena’s video work focuses on traditional methods of preserving food. Although the Internet is now developed and people can freely obtain a lot of information, it does not mean that non-Maori people can fully understand the traditional culture of the indigenous people. This collective culture is in urgent need of protection.
At the entrance of the exhibition, Lisa Reihana’s traditional multimedia works of arches with portraits of ancestors are installed. The arches are equipped with multiple display screens, looping videos of friends and family members wearing Maori costumes, colonial costumes and contemporary work clothes. They are in the video Posing for a photo, as if playing the image of a Maori warrior in a studio. Referring to the form of ethnographic photography, Reihana’s threshold-style dynamic album reiterates the expressive power of images and symbolizes the blending of cultures.
The “Wire Harness” exhibition held at the Dawes Museum of Art near Wellington, North Island, New Zealand, collects the works of rising stars of Maori artists seeking their identity. Arapeta Ashton reproduces the ancient weaving technique condensed in the process from rattan fiber to ready-made cloak, implying a connection between weavers and ancestors. In Ayesha Green’s paintings, his name is repeatedly connected with the names of his mother and grandmother in childish ligatures. Ana Iti also uses Maori letters to express the relationship between language and identity. Chevron Hassett’s photographic series “Maori Children” records the intimate and happy moments of personal travel. Olivia Webb’s moving video works show the life scenes of five families, highlight the diversity of life experiences, and allow the public to listen to different values and expectations.
Jasmine Togo-Brisby showed her family history as the fourth generation of Australian South Islanders on a light box on Kootenay Street in Wellington. Her work “If the Wall Can Talk, It Will Tell You My Name” uses the ceiling of Wellington City Hall as the background, presenting the full-length portraits of herself, her daughter and mother to the public in silhouette. The historic building is intertwined with the story of the fourth female character-this woman is Togo-Brisby’s great-great-grandmother. She was transported from her island to Sydney as a child to serve the Wunderlich family. The trauma of colonialism makes us re-examine what kind of inheritance needs to be remembered, cherished and protected.
Sorawit Songsataya’s work “Inside” exhibited on the outdoor terrace of the Auckland Art Gallery is carved from smooth and delicate white Oamaru stone into a unique local bird-a huge resin-poured blue moa. This bird can’t fly, it was extinct 700 years ago. The work is inspired by a 1907 painting about a flock of birds mourning the last moa, which can easily arouse the viewer’s sigh and sorrow. The work commemorates the lost local characteristics and expresses nostalgia for the past. In the near future, when all species become our irretrievable history, it will be an elegy.