McCahon's Prophetic Voice: Laurence Simmons

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  • Date: 24 June 2017
  • Time: Saturday, 2.30pm
  • Cost: Free

McCahon's work aspires to the status of prophecy, and prophecy runs all the way through it. In this talk, Laurence Simmons argues that McCahon’s interest in the voice is not as a ventriloquist. He is not interested in merely inhabiting another voice from a safe distance. And this is undoubtedly why, Simmons says, McCahon does not merely depict the great Māori prophets Te Whiti and Tohu Kākahi in his Parihaka Triptych (1972), but actually identifies with them: he both understands his own work as a similar prophecy, and even tries to make this work a kind of self-prophecy, to actually performatively bring their prophecies about in his work. 

Laurence Simmons is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Auckland. He has written widely on contemporary New Zealand art and is currently writing a book with Rex Butler on McCahon’s afterlife.