City Gallery

Past exhibition

Techno Māori: Māori Art in the Digital Age

21 September–2 December 2001

ARTISTS Shane Cotton, Darryn George, Olivia Haddon, Eugene Hansen, Dean Hapeta, Toni Huata, Robert Jahnke, Maureen Lander and John Fairclough, Rongotai Lomas, Ngahiraka Mason, Mika, Michael Parekowhai, Reuben Paterson, Nathan Pohio, Rachael Rakena, Lisa Reihana, Natalie Robertson, Peter Robinson, Voodoo Chile, Wai 100%, Keri Whaitiri, Wayne Youle CURATORS Deidre Brown, Jonathon Mane-Wheoki PARTNER Pātaka Art + Museum, Porirua OTHER VENUE Pataka CD-ROM essays Jonathon Mane-Wheoki, Deidre Brown, Mark Amery, Darcy Nicholas, Neil Pardington; poetry Roma Potiki; music Mika, Voodoo Chile, Wai 100%

Techno Māori’s punchy title plays on the disjunction between expectations of traditional Māori culture and the futuristic advance of the online world. Featuring established and emerging contemporary Māori artists engaged with digital media, the show asks us to expand our view of Māori art. Curator Deidre Brown calls it 'a snapshot of Māori life in the digital age'.

Some works are clearly both Māori and digital, like Rongotai Lomas’s animation, Te Ika-a-Māui, and Maureen Lander and John Fairclough's Digital Strings and Binary Strings, an immersive black-light installation that renders traditional string games in a Tron-like aesthetic. Cross-referencing tukutuku and minimalism, Peter Robinson’s print depicts binary computer code of 0s and 1s. Perhaps 1 and 0 refer to ‘Io’, the supreme being in Māori cosmology. Meanwhile, Shane Cotton’s paintings evoke the gravity-free space of the computer screen. Some inclusions are more oblique, like Michael Parekowhai’s carved wooden cupid sculptures, Castor and Pollux, named after the Gemini twins in the night sky. Painted white, as if marble, they resemble kitsch garden decorations.

The show is staged simultaneously at City Gallery and Pātaka Art + Museum, in Porirua City. Both venues feature the same artists, but with different works. These physical spaces are linked by a CD-ROM, which acts as a shared virtual exhibition space. It includes an interview with Wayne Youle, excerpts of Dean Hapeta’s 'rapumentary' Ngātahi, and music videos by Voodoo Chile, Mika, and Wai 100%. The CD-ROM also includes Keri Whaitiri’s sound work Wish You Were Here … Kxx, which features aural ‘postcards’ from a New Zealander living in New York. Whaitiri provides an email address, so visitors can sign up to receive them. Cyberspace becomes a new forum for kōrero. The CD-ROM plays at City Gallery throughout the show.

Targeting a young urban Māori audience, the public programme concludes with Technotonics, DJ Kerb, and DJ Rhys B. ‘We wanted to showcase Māori musicians who are using technology such as turntables, samples, and mixers’, says public programmer Te Itirawa Nepia. However, the media repeats an anecdote from Brown, about how one anonymous craft artist declined the invitation to be in the show, as she believed her work was concerned with and should be judged by the standards of the handmade, making it, in the artist's words, distinctly ‘un-Techno Māori’.