In the reference “Place” collated by Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar an exhibition of the most challenging artworks in relation to place are presented, these artworks interpret the functions and ideas of place in the contemporary art world. The chapters of this reference are structured as rooms. Every chapter is represented by a theme; Place, urban, nature, fantastic, myth/history, politics/control, territories, itinerancy and heterotopias and non-places.
The introduction to room four “Myth/History” (p.83) states,
“Often our everyday places have been witness to extraordinary events. These may be significant enough to have been recorded in the annals of history, or perhaps they are less consequential – but no less significant – moments of daily life, the memories of which have been passed down the generations”.
This led me to revisit a reference written by Hirini Moko Mead, Tikanga Maori: Living by Maori values. Mead demonstrates an exploration into creative arts and social interaction between current and past societies where Maori tribes are the focus. Meads intentions are to bring awareness to current difficulties in te ao Maori and how tikanga can guide and facilitate daily living. “Attributes of identity” is a section where Mead discusses ira tangata, whakapapa, turangawaewae and pumanawa. Ira tangata refers to the genes we inherit from our parents. Whakapapa is the social component of our genes which is already set in place. Turangawaewae is our place to stand, the place where our ancestors stood, our locality on this planet and lastly pumanawa refers to the characteristics and natural talents which have been passed down.
At the moment I have no direct link between these two references, but I feel they both have merit. When composing and capturing an image, I feel my work includes both place and identity – Place in relation to territory, the here and now, the past and present. Identity, not so much in how I represent myself, but how I re-present what is around me, my life, my experiences. I am still figuring out where I place myself amongst this contemporary world of art, I am on a journey to discover my turangawaewae, my locality, my place to stand within an artistic framework.
Mead (2003) says, “The individual has to act in a social, political, economic and spiritual environment. Education and training prepare the individual for life in this complex cultural environment”.
In returning back to the chapter “myth/history” I would like to focus on two artists, Juan Cruz and Joao Penalva, not their biographies and life-stories, but general observations I have made.
Juan Cruz has an interest in stories, storytelling, basically narratives. He has an adaptability which is an advantage, to where he researches a site/location, finds relevant narratives and re-presents them in the most simple but clever ways. Cruz constructs scenes/frames in which he tells stories utilising various media – installation, video work, performance and narration. Scenes which often lead us through cities, urban areas and lived spaces, similarly where Rebecca Coates (n.d) mentions,
“Cruz’s choice affords a local viewer a snapshot of how we present ourselves to the world beyond: the weight we place on certain cultural sites and locations and the images this presents to outsiders”.
The above quote relates directly to the work, Application for Planning Permit: Proposal to Build a Metaphor (2001), where Cruz was invited to attend an exhibition at a place he knew nothing about. He experiments with what is real and what can be imagined and the aim of this work is an attempt to bind imagination and local understanding in an indirect but complex way.
Where Coates (n.d) goes on to say, “on reading Cruz’s narratives further – and possibly expecting greater enlightenment as to the significant aspects of our city through the eyes of an outsider – the reader is presented with a series of stories about a place and people unknown to the viewer, but familiar in shared social experiences”.
TO BE CONTINUED..