Tuhinga / Essays
Art New Zealand
Essay: An International Indigene: Engaging with Brett Graham
Author: Anna-Marie White (Te Ātiawa)
Publication: Art New Zealand, no. 147, September 2013 : 38–47
Brett Graham (Ngāti Korokī Kahukura) is a leading Māori artist and New Zealand sculptor. His monumental installations examine indigenous experiences of the colonial process and emphasize relationships between Māori and other colonised cultures. In this way, Graham has maintained the activist tradition of contemporary Māori art while positively contributing to bicultural and multicultural discourse in New Zealand society.
More recently, Graham's work has been included in international exhibitions that position contemporary indigenous art as an emerging international art movement. He has been at the forefront of this movement and this article charts the pan-indigenous themes in his work from the early 1990s to the present. This history is based on a series of conversations with the artist and indigenous curators and scholars who actively engage with his work. These conversations occurred in the weeks before and after Graham's trip to Ottawa to install Āniwaniwa, his collaborative installation with Rachael Rakena at the Sakahán: International Indigenous Art exhibition (17 May–2 September 2013) at the National Gallery of Canada. Sakahán is a much anticipated exhibition, which gives strength and focus to what Jonathan Mane-Wheoki has recently termed "Te Toi Ao: The New Art World."
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