Sale by Epithet
This diptych art work is a very timely comment on the commercial imperatives of the global art market. Influenced by the language and visual material used in the catalogues of major auction houses such as Christies and Sotherby’s, artist and curator Huhana Smith relates the differences between the Western model of consumerism with Maori relationships to taonga or treasures. Smith accentuates the shadowy nature of the market and suggests that the prophetic words of Nopera Panakareao who in May 1840 stated ‘Ko te atakau o te whenua i riro ia te Kuini, ko te tinana o te whenua waiho ki ngä Mäori. (The shadow of the land goes to Queen Victoria but the substance remains with us.)’, has in fact become the opposite.
Dr Huhana Smith, is Ngati Tukorehe and is affiliated to Raukawa ki te Tonga. Until 2009 she was the Senior Curator Maori at The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa where her role involved the research, writing and exhibition of contemporary and customary Maori visual culture. Her previous position at Te Papa has continued to provide significant material for Smiths painting. Recent projects including a position on the International Advisory Panel to conceptualise the collections for the new Humboldt Forum in Berlin and the ecological research project Manaaki Taha Moana: Enhancing Coastal Ecosystems for Iwi and hapu have also influenced her practice.
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