‘New questions have been asked by feminism of representations: who speaks, for whom, from what position and with what authority in the production of discourses…' Elizabeth Grosz
In 1993, the centennial year of women’s suffrage in Aotearoa, City Gallery Wellington re-opened in its current home, the former Wellington Public Library Building. To mark the centennial year, the gallery mounted alter / image: feminism and representation in New Zealand art 1973-1993, curated by Christina Barton and Deborah Lawler-Dormer. alter / image opened alongside Jacqueline Fraser’s He Tohu: The New Zealand Room, Rosemarie Trockel, a solo show by the German artist, and Te Whare Puanga: Recent Māori and Pacific Island Women’s Weaving and Tivaevae from the Wellington Region. In combination, this suite of four exhibitions saw the entire gallery building filled solely with the work of women artists.
Thirty years later, Archive: alter / image re-visits and re-configures this critical terrain. Taking Elizabeth Grosz’ question as a point of enquiry, it prompts viewers to consider how discourse around feminism and artmaking has shifted and morphed in the intervening years. Archive: alter / image presents archival documentation and ephemera from across the exhibition, as well as the accompanying film and performance programmes. This material is presented in conversation with artworks by Rhondda Bosworth, Mary-Louise Browne, Alexis Hunter, Robyn Kahukiwa (Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti), Merata Mita (Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao), Jude Rae, Lisa Reihana (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Tū), Rachel Shearer (Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Pākehā) and Christine Webster. Made between 1973 and 2019, these artworks prompt us, in a range of ways, to consider who speaks for whom, what stories we are told, and who holds the power of representation.