City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

Stop Making Sense

11 May–25 June 1995

ARTISTS Rachael Churchward/Kirsty Cameron, Shane Cotton/Dick Frizzell, Jacqueline Fraser/Bill Hammond, Eugene Hansen/Anton Parsons, Chris Heaphy/Gordon Walters, Ralph Hotere/John Reynolds, Robert Jahnke/Peter Roche, Charles Koroneho/Dion Workman, Ema Lyon/Judy Darragh, Barnard McIntyre/Karl Maughan, Diane Prince/Terrence Handscomb, Michael Parekowhai/Giovanni Intra, Lisa Reihana/Julian Dashper, Ann Shelton/Haere Mai Marching Team, Dean Strickland/Denys Watkins CURATOR George Hubbard

In the 1990s, the nature and implications of biculturalism excite New Zealand art. For Stop Making Sense, maverick Māori curator George Hubbard commissions collaborative works from pairs of Māori and Pākehā artists. This bicultural chemistry experiment is a sequel to his 1991 show Cross-Pollination at Artspace, Auckland, which also featured Māori-Pākehā collaborations.

Many of Hubbard’s ‘blind dates’ are mischievous. He teams up Māori weaver Ema Lyon and Queen of Kitsch Judy Darragh. Lyon’s flax skirt ends up on a gyrating stand, like a hula-girl dashboard toy. Peter Roche and Robert Janhke do not see eye to eye; Roche takes to Jahnke's work with a hammer. And, in response to Terrence Handscomb’s contribution—declaring ‘Ethically challenged white NZ Male/seeks/PC sensitive dominatrix/to support culture punishment games’—Diane Prince provides a sale table with faces made of paroa Māori bread, with a sign that explains ‘Freshly Baked Phoney Hone Parāoa 50c’.

Some works play on the cultural-appropriation debate. Painters Dick Frizzell and Shane Cotton had history. Cotton had already replied to Frizzell’s Grocer with Moko (1992) with his painting Sold (1994), featuring a grocer without. For the show, Frizzell paints a mock-modernist abstraction, which Cotton amends, adding his own signature motifs. Similarly, Gordon Walters (celebrated and criticised for his appropriations of Māori motifs) was paired with Chris Heaphy (who had provocatively rendered Māori motifs on tablemats and coasters.)

Hubbard pitches artists against one another. However, Giovanni Intra and Michael Parekowhai trump him. Their photographic diptych, 14 May 1968, offers two versions of a found image, one a mirror reversal of the other. The image is of the May 1968 Paris riots, from the month of their births. The work asks us to read the same image through their different concerns. The show also features Ralph Hotere and John Reynolds’s work Winter Chrysanthemums (1991), from Hubbard’s Cross-Pollination show.