Native Portraits n.19897
With Artist: Lisa Reihana
26th June - 22nd July, on continuous loop during normal opening hours
This video work was first exhibited as part of a multimedia installation commissioned for the opening of Te Papa in 1997. The eight short vignettes range from 2-9 minutes in length and examine the postcard and photographic genres of 19th century New Zealand, including the ‘Māori belle’ and the ‘noble warrior'. The dramas are staged in photographic studios beginning just prior to the photograph or portrait being recorded.
Currently representing New Zealand at the prestigious Venice Biennale, Lisa Reihana’s work considers the political ramifications of how identity and history are represented. Native Portraits n.19897 seeks to complicate our assumptions around the politics of image making and taking. In this work, Reihana takes on authenticity as a European construct, demonstrating how an image may be staged or stolen, and highlighting the little known fact that Māori actively commissioned photographs for their own purposes. A rich and sophisticated body of work, Native Portraits n. 19897 has been described as “infusing an inert past with the sentient blood of friends and family.”