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So if you’re The Silver Surfer, Who Am I?

19 January, 2005

So if you’re The Silver Surfer, Who Am I?

From space-invaders to paddling pools, Wolverine, BMX bikes and the local dairy, The Who Am I? Episodes by emerging artist Kelcy Taratoa explores popular culture and personal identity – what it means to grow up Mâori in an urban environment.

In this exhibition of final year work Taratoa, a Master of Maori Visual Arts student, dares to ask the question Who Am I? The resulting series of vivid urban landscape paintings and audio soundscapes are loaded with much-loved icons of kiwi culture and quirky familiar cues for the viewer. There’s everything from a beach ball to a New World supermarket, Spiderman scaling a Tui sign on a corner pub, the typical kiwi holiday caravan, a wooden buzzy-bee toy and a lolly-pop stop sign at a zebra crossing outside any primary school in New Zealand.

The Who Am I? Episodes is both an intriguing look at all the everyday things that surround and influence our daily lives, and a revealing visual representation of Taratoa’s personal journey. It reflects the experience of many Mâori youth growing up without traditional cultural influences, yet submerged in the abundant pop culture of a typical urban lifestyle.

Taratoa says his work aims to “ask the hard questions - Is skin colour enough for an individual to feel a part of and be accepted by a particular group? Or is it the clothes you wear, the music you listen to, or even the sport that you play that determines acceptance and identification? Or, is identity more about the people you associate with?”

“These paintings depict an internal ‘drive-by’. Kelcy has taken graphic snapshots of his own childhood, past experiences, places and memories that will resonate with many urban-born Maori and New Zealanders in general. The audio soundscapes of spoken word and an eclectic mix of hiphop, drum and bass, dub and reggae accompany each painting and will add another dimension to the viewers experience of The Who Am I? Episodes” says Dowse Programmes Developer Mâori, Debbie Martin.

Kelcy Taratoa (Ngäiterangi, Ngäti Raukawa), will graduate with a Master of Maori Visual Arts from Te Putahi A Toi, School of Maori Studies at Massey University in Palmerston North, in early 2005. Taratoa has worked with Audio Scientist, James Lissette on this project, to mix the five different versions of the soundscape to be listened to with each corresponding painting. All artworks in this exhibition, and a copy of The Who Am I? Episodes CD Rom are for sale.
The Who Am I? Episodes will be on display at The Dowse, Lower Hutt from Saturday 29 January – 8 May, 2005.


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