Week Six | Task: Western Accounts & 20th Century Art/Design

Part One:

Maori visual and material culture has been shaped by the colonisation of Europeans in Aotearoa. The dominance of the Crown in Aotearoa has led to Maori becoming inferior, therefore their art and culture has become scrutinised and excluded from “historical narratives” (Wheoki 7). The language barrier between Maori and European caused multiple problems, not only with legal documents like the Treaty of Waitangi, but it also “prevented Europeans from understanding the intricacies of tapu” (Anderson 133). Which resulted in Europeans not being able to understand the importance of Maori customs, traditions and art. Today, Maori art is rarely found in galleries, as it is still considered ethnographic (Wheoki 8).

Part Two:

Fig 1. Youle, Wayne. Often Liked, Occasionally Beaten. 2004. Resin and Cardboard Sticks. Private collection. {Suite} Gallery, Wellington. 

‘Often Liked, Occasionally Beaten’ is a contemporary artwork that discusses issues of commercialisation of Maori toanga in popular culture and “the more sinister undertones of family violence” (Anderson 41). Hei tiki is a traditional Maori toanga that is “highly prized” (Anderson 40). So, for Youle to create tiki from coloured resin (rather than treasured jade stone) and present them in a way that appears fun and contemporary would create mixed emotions from a Maori worldview. Maori could view this as offensive as  their sacred symbol has been transformed into a massed produced European souvenir that is not culturally appropriate.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Atholl, Judy Binney, and Aroha Harris. Tangata Whenua An Illustrated History. Bridget Williams Books. Print.

Mane-Wheoki, Jonathan. Art’s Histories in Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland: University of Auckland, 2011. Print.


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