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Aniwaniwa returns home to the Waikato

Media release
Aniwaniwa returns home to the Waikato
Posted On: Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A New Zealand exhibition that has received international recognition opens at Waikato Museum this Saturday [27 September].

Aniwaniwa is a collaborative work by sculptor Brett Graham and digital artist Rachael Rakena that tells the story of Horahora, a village on the Waikato River where Graham's father was born, that was flooded to create a new dam at Lake Karapiro. While the work tells a very specific and local story, its references have international implications both in terms of environmental issues, with rising sea levels and global warming and concerns about cultural loss in an era of globalisation.

The sculptural and video installation became the first exhibition in New Zealand history to be chosen for the collateral events section of the 52nd Venice Biennale, the world's oldest and must illustrious international biennale.

A unique and powerful experience, Aniwaniwa tells stories via visual and auditory projections from suspended pods (wakahuia) which viewers experience by lying on mattresses on the floor in a darkened room. The installation has an accompanying soundtrack by leading performers Whirimako Black, Deborah Wai Kapohe with Paddy Free of electronica duo Pitch Black.

After its triumphant showing in Venice, Waikato Museum Director Kate Vusoniwailala said the facility is extremely proud to exhibit Aniwaniwa back in its home area. It will be the first time Waikato Museum has exhibited a Venice Biennale exhibition.

"Aniwaniwa is returning to its source – the Waikato. This art holds great significance to the people of the Waikato. The story of the flooding of Horahora is a fundamental part of the area's history," she said.

"The art also gives an insight into the intrinsic connection of the local Maori people with the land, the water and the Waikato River in particular. Visitors will see a piece of history in the making, both in terms of the stories it tells and the role Aniwaniwa has played in elevating New Zealand art to international status."

Aniwaniwa has had significant support from Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, the

National Institute of Research Excellence for Maori Development and Advancement, and from Massey University and Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

An Exhibition Opening will be held this Saturday from 10am-12pm, and will be attended by both Brett Graham and Rachael Rakena. The exhibition runs at Waikato Museum until 16 November.

Biographical information on the artists:

Dr Brett Graham is one of New Zealand's most exciting and accomplished sculptors, highly regarded for his ability to abstract complex historical, political and cultural ideas (and transform them) into powerful artistic statements.

Of Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Pakeha (European) descent, Graham's work embraces Maori and other indigenous peoples' histories, critiquing and exploring issues relating to cultural inequities of the past and present within New Zealand and the wider Pacific.

He was awarded his Doctorate in Fine Arts in 2005 from the University of Auckland and in the last decade has exhibited extensively, locally and internationally, as well as being regarded as a leading authority on contemporary Maori art.

Rachael Rakena is one of New Zealand's prominent digital and moving image artists, known for her unique collaborative approach to the visual arts, working with singers, musicians, dancers and kapa haka groups. Rakena's ability to use a variety of media to explore time, space, motion, energy, sound and light has received both national and international exposure and acclaim. Her video, installation and digital stills incorporate many aspects of the performing arts to explore ideas about Maori identity today.

As well as exhibiting locally and internationally, Rachael has lectured at various leading New Zealand educational institutes in Digital and Moving Image and Maori Visual Arts. She is currently the course coordinator for the Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts at Massey University in Palmerston North.


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