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NZ Artists' Hui in Chicago!

NZ Artists' Hui in Chicago!

The Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago is proud to announce that four New Zealand artists have been selected to participate in the ambitious project Close Encounters that kicks off this May.

New Zealand artists Daniel du Bern, Maddie Leach, Lisa Reihana and Wayne Youle together with internationally recognised Chicago-based artists Tania Bruguera, Walter Hood, Truman Lowe and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle will be asked to explore the social dynamics and architecture of cultural gatherings. Close Encounters will be initiated on the 15th of May with a three day hui at Ruatepupuke II, a sacred wharenui on permanent display at the Field Museum of Chicago. The hui will also involve interaction with alternative sub-cultures in the city of Chicago and will be accessible to global discussion via the internet. This initial phase of the project is being supported by Creative New Zealand. The project culminates with an exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center in 2009 that will feature exclusively new work by the eight artists.

"The Hyde Park Art Center is constantly looking for ways to give artists extraordinary opportunities to challenge the art world and engage with communities. Close Encounters is the epitome of this vision and is a first for both New Zealand and Chicago, " according to Chuck Thurow, the Center's Executive Director and co-curator of Close Encounters.

"Close Encounters is as much about dialogue as it is about art," says Bruce E. Phillips, an independent curator from New Zealand and co-curator of Close Encounters. "It will investigate the places that people gather and the traditions that cultures form - which are complex and pressing topics within multi-ethnic urban societies. Close Encounters will also be an important project for understanding the cultural uniqueness of Aotearoa New Zealand within a global community. The utilization of the Ruatepupuke II whare at the Field Museum is an integral key to initiating such understanding and it is a privilege that such a sacred whare will help begin many insightful conversations and connections between New Zealand and Chicago."

The Hyde Park Art Center is collaborating with five major Chicago institutions who will work with the artists to realise their projects. Collaborating institutions include: the American Indian Center of Chicago, Art Institute, Columbia College Chicago, the University of Chicago, City of Chicago's and the Field Museum of Natural History. The Hyde Park Art Center is Chicago's most experimental contemporary art space, which is unique in combining many of the qualities of a community-based art a space and simultaneously challenging new and established artists to experiment with new directions in their practice. Recent artists of note who have created work for the Art Center include Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Kerry James Marshal, Ann Wilson, and Dawoud Bey.

Ruatepupuke II is an amazingly carved 19th century Māori Meeting House that was created by the ancestors of Te Whanau A Ruataupare (from Tokomaru Bay on the East Cape) in the honour of Ruatepupuke who according to legend brought the art of woodcarving into the human world. It is believed that Ruatepupuke II was sold to a Maori curio dealer and later owned by an ethnographic dealer in Germany. Ruatepupuke II was then sold to Chicago's Field Museum in 1905. After discussions and collaboration between Te Whanau A Ruataupare and the Field Museum in the 1980s and early 1990s, Ruatepupuke II underwent major refurbishment and is now a functioning urban marae within Chicago. The Close Encounters hui will be the first of its kind to be held at the marae. The Hyde Park Art Center acknowledges the integral support and guidance from Te Whanau A Ruataupare and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa) and their part in facilitating the Close Encounters hui.


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