NEW ZEALAND DIGITAL ART AUSTRALIA
Combining ancestral culture and slow art with new media
Mâori artist Lisa Reihana (born New Zealand 1964, lives Auckland) has produced an intriguing and inspiring body of work collectively called Digital marae (2001,2008) which is now on show in Sydney at the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the new media biennial, the Anna Landa award.
Reihana by her own admission likes to work slowly so she is giving herself until 2020 to complete this piece which will comprise life size prints of female, male and transgender figures/deities who will be exhibited between panels of digitally-manipulated patterns taken from 70s textiles and recombined to form Maori patterns.
She believes that there is “far too much stuff” in the world and that each work that she makes must have a strong reason for being.
As well as a fascination with gender, Reihana’s works reference the inclusiveness of the Maori culture in which there is space for everyone.
The marae is an ancestral home for Mâori people, a meeting space and a site for exchange. Her life-size digital prints depict friends and family dressed as male deities (atua) that appear in Mâori creation stories. This Digital marae is a double of the original meeting house, but it is also a transformation.
See the works being hung and listen to Reihana explain how Maori idiom acts as inspiration for her contemporary new media artworks: the surfboard under the feet of Maui, the stream of city lights in the background of Urban warrior, the astronomical imagery in Ranginui and the 19th-century suit in the cross-gendered Dandy.
See also the excellent 10 minute video made in 2007 for the Elizabeth A. Sackler foundation for Feminist Art in which Reihanna talks about the Mahuika, the fire goddess and other works.
About the Anna Landa Award
Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Domain, Sydney, Australia – 7 May – 19 July 2009
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently exhibiting Double Take, the third Anne Landa Award, which was the first biennial exhibition in Australia for moving image and new media work, with an acquisitive award of $25 000. The award was established in honour of Anne Landa, a Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW who died in 2002.
The artists in this year’s exhibition consider what it means to transform the self into another persona – as a doppelgänger, a karaoke performer, an avatar, a robot or a fantasy alter-ego.
- TV Moore, Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano create private performances on video
- Lisa Reihana’s digital photographs present friends and family posing as ancestral Mâori spirit figures
- Mari Velonaki creates robotic avatars
- Cao Fei and Phil Collins bring together loose collectives of people around a desire to adopt imaginary identities
These performances are not the pure fantasies of popular digital culture, where it is so easy to masquerade as another persona. These artists are more circumspect. Real time lurks within. This is the ‘double’ – because while the performances have a presence in our everyday world, they also take an imaginary guise. They shuttle between two worlds: reality and fantasy.
The exhibition includes video, interactive robotics and digital photography.
Watch curator Victoria Lynn talk on video about Double Take
- First of its kind in Asia – Taiwan’s Digital Art Center officially opens – Jul 09
- Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto – 4 fascinating video interviews – May 09
- New roles for art collectors created by Cao Fei on Second Life – Jan 09
- Emerging Taiwanese artist Huang Hsin-Chien at Shanghai Biennale 2008 – Oct 08