curator's statement

 
 

Kia ora
Kia orana
Talofa lava
Malo e lelei
Fakalofa lahi atu
Greetings.

 
I Welcome you to Island Crossings - the first major exhibition of Contemporary Maori and Pacific Art from Aotearoa New Zealand, to be shown in Australia. This exhibition is hosted by Global Arts Link, Ipswich in partnership with Pacific Age Art, New Zealand.
 
The artists and myself are honored that this landmark exhibition is being held on country for which the members and Elders of the local Indigenous community and their forebears have been custodians for many centuries. We acknowledge their living culture and unique role in the life of this region.
 
Island Crossings is a selection of the vital and vibrant work being done today by Maori and Pacific artists living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Island Crossings does not attempt to be definitive yet seeks to demonstrate the range of work styles and media being used, and to display the range of issues and concerns addressed by contemporary Maori and Pacific artists and their communities.
 
The participating artists, though they utilize contemporary medium and images, are committed to the valuing of traditional custom and cultural practice, yet most have navigated institutional art education. They are creating traditions which bridge the world of their ancestors and their global urban reality, it is this reality that reinforces the social and political agendas of their work. Their personal art practice is grounded in an assertion of an identity, the loss and necessity to reinvent cultural traditions, and the acquisition of knowledge that enables these expressions (1), as well as a deep respect for their ancestors. Like their ancestors they use what materials are available in an innovative manner, and tell the stories of the experiences, people, ideas, and issues that are important to them, their families and their communities. Contemporary art acts as the medium for transmitting yesterday's knowledge to today's audience in a new and exciting way.
 
Island Crossings speaks of journeys, the inherent travel and interaction amongst the greatest seafaring peoples in the world. Island Crossings also speaks of the modern day journey's and migrations of South Pacific peoples to other lands, charting new directions, carrying their culture with them . Island Crossings speaks of the metaphysical journeys of traditional art (our past) to contemporary art (our present) to become traditional art (our future). Art Historian Philip JC Dark in his essay in 'Art and Identity in Oceania' puts it succinctly as
'Tomorrow's heritage is today's art and yesteryears identity'.(2)
The diversity of art and its richness is reflective of these interactions - a dynamic blend of the traditional (painting, carving, sculpture, fibre, tattoo) and the avant -garde (digital media, assemblage, fashion, moving image performance). Pacific Art Historian Dr Karen Stevenson comments:
"Using a pacific notion of art, throwing a wider net (as it were) - as an all inclusive and integral aspect of life, the range itself reflects 'Pacific'."(3)
Island Crossings seeks to create a forum that enables the voices of Maori and Pacific peoples from Aotearoa New Zealand to be heard, and provides an opportunity for the viewer to engage with the works and be enriched by the encounter.
 
In closing I wish to acknowledge the participating artists, without whom this exhibition would not be possible. Thank you for the wonderful art work, and for your faith in me to represent you. Also the commitment of Global Arts Link and its community representatives in realizing this project; thank you for the opportunity of this partnership. Thanks too, to Uxbridge, Design Capsule, Practical Studio Supplies, to Tony Duke my superb project manager, my sponsors, and above all my family for their unquestioning support.
 

Giles Peterson
M.A. , Dip Arts Admin, Curator/Agent
Pacific Age Art - Auckland, N.Z.
Tel / Fax 64 (9) 537 2440
Email: pacificarts@paradise.net.nz
Website: www.pacificart.co.nz
 
(1) Stevenson, Karen 'Pacific Art Moving Beyond the Stereotype'.
Art New Zealand, Vol 90, Autumn 1999, p 65
(2) Dark, J.C. Philip 'Tomorrow's Heritage is Today's Art and Yesteryears Identity'.
'Art and Identity in Oceania', Allen and Louise Hanson eds. Honululu, University of Hawaii Press, 1990, p244
(3) Ibid 1, p65

 

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