Poutereraki 8 - 26 November 2011
Bartley Company Art is pleased to present this new exhibition by internationally acclaimed video artist Rachael Rakena. Poutereraki is another verse of He Waiata Whaiaipo, a video series first exhibited here in the gallery in 2009. Since then it has been shown in Beijing, in several public gallery exhibitions around New Zealand and has been selected by City Gallery Wellington as the New Zealand contribution to a ten country video programme.
In this second verse of the moteatea, which is a traditional love song and lament, Rakena brings together references to recent events with Maori mythology. Poutereraki is the darkest realm of Te Po (the night). In Maori cosmology Hineatauira (also known as Hinetitama) fled in shame and grief from the world of light, through the realms of Te Po, to arrive at Poutereraki where she resides as Hinenuitepo, the great woman of the night.
The dark suffocating images are paired with black oil blots evoking notions of destruction, drowning and a search for the unattainable. The blots, He Wai Po, building up on the screen surfaces and walls of the gallery, in addition to recalling the black tides of Rena's oil spill stain dreams and hopes.
But from the darkness there is light. Maui tikitiki a Tauranga references Maui whose mother, believing him to be stillborn, cast him into the ocean carefully wrapped in the hair of her topknot. But he was found alive and went on to many great feats. Similarly, the work from which the show derives its name, Poutereraki tells the story of Tane the husband of Hinetitama who found the stars on his journey back to the world of light after his visit to Te Po. So many men under the bridge is a lament for the often unsung/unseen vulnerability of men.
Rakena's work sits within a context described as Toi Rerehiko - a moving image art form immersed in Maori tradition, tikanga (custom) and values. The word rerehiko plays on rorohiko the Maori word for computer, which translated literally means electric brain and Rakena coined the term Toi Rerehiko to situate her practice.
This is the second major work Rakena has produced this year. Haka Peepshow launched as a public art work in Dunedin presciently anticipated the debate about the role and place of the haka that surfaced during the Rugby World Cup.
Rachael has exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, China, Italy, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, France, Spain, Britain and the United States. In 2009/10, her work was included the Spanish exhibition FEEDFORWARD (with an accompanying 230 page catalogue) which explored how artists internationally are using digital technologies to interpret the world. In 2008 her work was included in the Busan Biennale. Aniwaniwa, a collaborative project with Brett Graham, was selected for inclusion in the 2007 Venice Biennale. In 2006, she and Graham represented New Zealand at the Sydney Biennale with the collaborative installation UFOB. Other major international exhibitions have included Pasifika Styles at Cambridge University in the UK, and in Dateline: Contemporary Art from the Pacific at Neuer Berliner Kunstverien, Berlin.