Friday, September 4, 2009

More International Acclaim for Maori Artist

Rachael Rakena, 2009. Image Courtesy Bartley & Company Art, Wellington
Back in 2005 I went along to Christchurch’s SOFA Gallery to see “Taonga Whanau,” a stunning show by Maori artist, Rachael Rakena (Ngai Tahu, Ngapuhi), a collaboration with Otene and Hana Rakena. I still have clear memories of the darkened gallery, the flickering, tantalising video images, the beautiful pounamu taonga (treasures), swinging above reflective surfaces. So I was delighted to learn a couple of days ago that Rakena’s newest video work, He Waiata Whaiaipo, recently exhibited at Wellington’s Bartley & Company Art, is set for international exposure. Rachael is one of the 25 musicians, artists and scholars selected by Wellington composer, Associate Professor Jack Body, to travel to China to take part in an international symposium on New Zealand and Pacific music at the beginning of November. Rachael’s work has been selected to be part of a video installation that Professor Body is curating. The image above – One Man is an Island – is a still from Rachael’s video work – “a love song in moving image employing the act of eating as a metaphor to play out ideas about desire, pursuit and fulfilment. In addition to working as an artist, Rachael is a lecturer at Toioho ki Apiti, School of Maori Studies at Massey University. To describe and locate her art practice, she has coined the term Toi Rerehiko, which plays on rorohiko, the Maori word for computer. Toi Rerehiko is a digital media art form immersed in Maori tikanga (custom) and values. In addition to exhibiting widely throughout New Zealand, Rachael’s work has received much acclaim internationally, particularly her collaborations for Sydney Biennale (2006), Venice Biennale (2007) and Busan Biennale (2008).

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