Posts Tagged ‘Political Art’

“U.S.N.Z. Flag” (Digital Paintings, 2009, thanks to Tao Wells)

Friday, December 4th, 2009

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Designs for a new New Zealand flag representing our nations unconscious split-personality (the motherland on one side, the fatherland on the other). Inspired by Tao Wells’ Global American Flags, Michael Billig’s Banal Nationalism (thanks to Robyn Kenealy) and the Herald’s call for a new NZ flag in 2009 (given support by National leader and current prime-minister John Key, as well as 11 members of the so-called ‘Order of New Zealand’).

“The central thesis of the present book is that, in the established nations, there is a continual ‘flagging’, or reminding, of nationhood. The established nations are those states that have confidence in their own continuity, and that, particularly, are part of what is conventionally described as ‘the West’. The political leaders of such nations – whether France, the USA, the United Kingdom or New Zealand – are not typically termed ‘nationalists’. However, as will be suggested, nationhood provides a continual background for their political discourses, for cultural products, and even for the structuring of newspapers. In so many little ways, the citizenry are daily reminded of their national place in a world of nations. However, this reminding is so familiar, so continual, that it is not consciously registered as reminding. The metonymic image of banal nationalism is not a flag which is being consciously waved with fervent passion; it is the flag hanging unnoticed on the public building.” (Michael Billig, Banal Nationalism)

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“Wells Group: The Beneficiary’s Office” (Archival Videos, 2010)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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Archival video footage from Wells Group installation/performance The Beneficiary’s Office. TV3 news footage taken straight from their website (you can see me right at the end, holding a camera in the background). Prime News segment re-edited by Dick Whyte. Labour Day March (featuring Tao Wells and Laura Shepard) shot and edited by Colin Hodson (with Tao Wells and Dick Whyte).

“If you enjoy your job you don’t stop working after eight hours,” says the Wells Group. “We must take responsibility for what we contribute to society. Stop buying crap to make things better. Job satisfaction makes us all feel better.” (read more)

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“There are more things in heaven and earth, John Key…” (Video Art, 2010)

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

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“Dick Whyte tackles the murky territory of John Key’s recently ill-conceived joke about cannibalism.” (Mark Williams) First screened as part of A Horse Walks Into A Bar, curated by Mark Williams (New Zealand Film Archive, Wellington, 6 October – 27 November, 2010). As Williams writes, “A Horse Walks into a Bar is an exhibition which presents moving images from the Film Archive’s collections alongside new work by local Wellington artists. The exhibition asks, What is humour? And how does it work?” (read more) Also featuring work by Claire Harris, Dad and Tracy, Caroline Johnston, John Lake and Chris Clements.

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“Right Back to the Future: Welfare Reform 1991-2011” (Tao Wells and Dick Whyte, 2011)

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

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Video produced for the Wellington benefit rights advocacy service, marking the 20th anniversary of welfare reform in New Zealand. Produced and edited by Tao Wells and Dick Whyte for the Wells Group. Footage sourced from Alister Barry’s documentary In a Land of Plenty and the NZ National party’s YouTube account.

Part of a series of detournements of New Zealand political representations and propaganda leading up to the 2011 elections. See more.

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“Concerned Citizens: Raising Money for the ‘Terror Raid’ Arrestees” (Garrett Street, Wellington, June 3rd, 2011)

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

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“More than 50 artists from around New Zealand will be exhibiting their work in Wellington at the start of next month to raise funds and public awareness for the arrestees of the 2007 October 15 “terror raids.” Exhibited works range from paintings, sculptures, and animation, to a reproduction of the assassination device police claim ‘terror raid’ arrestees planned to use – a catapult designed to launch a bus onto the head of former US president George Bush.” (Scoop: Independent News)

‘Concerned Citizens’ is taking place at Garrett Street, in Wellington (opposite Glover Park, above People’s coffee) and opens on Friday 3rd of June at 4.30pm, followed by a screening of the documentary Operation 8: Deep in the Forest at 8pm. The donated works will be on sale and display over the weekend (with all money raised going to those currently standing trial). I will be donating a couple of works, alongside more than 50 Wellington artists including Tao Wells, Campbell Kneale, Bryce Galloway, Robyn Kenealy, Ellen Rhoda, Roger Morris, Richard Meros, Arlo Edwards, Jeff Henderson and Hannah Salmon (see full list here).

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A SHORT HISTORY LESSON

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“On Monday, October 15th 2007, more than 300 police carried out dawn raids on dozens of houses all over Aotearoa/New Zealand. Police claim the raids were in response to ‘concrete terrorist threats’ from indigenous activists.” (October 15 Solidarity Website) However, the Solicitor-General was quick to reject the police bid to treat these arrests as ‘terrorism’ and the only charges laid to date have been for the possession of unlicensed firearms.

4 years later those arrested, including both Maori and Pakeha activists, are finally standing trial, but have been denied a jury; “Why have these people been denied a trial by jury? Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the legal proceedings? The police seem to be equating legitimate political and environmental activism with terrorism.” (Lance Ravenswood) Adding insult to injury, it has now been announced that the trial may be postponed another year, not taking place until 2012. Tamati Kruger speculated that the delay of the trial may have something to do with the rugby world cup being scheduled to start just as the trial would have been ending; “There may be an embarrassment with some Tūhoe action and public action while rugby and New Zealand is being showcased to the world.” (read more)

Ngai Tūhoe were one of the main targets of the ‘terror raids’, which serves to further damage the already strained relations between Tūhoe and the NZ government. In 1865 Tuhoe were falsely accused of killing the missionary Karl Volkner and, based on this accusation, the government stole 5700ha of their most fertile land. Furthermore, Tuhoe declined to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, were instrumental in supporting the Kingitanga movement, and granted Te Kooti (who had been arrested and exiled by Crown without trial) sanctuary in Te Urewera in 1868. As a result, “a scorched earth campaign was unleashed against Tūhoe; people were imprisoned and killed, their cultivations and homes destroyed, and stock killed or run off. Through starvation, deprivation and atrocities at the hands of the government… Tūhoe submitted to the Crown.” (Te Ara Encyclopedia)  The way in which the most recent arrests were carried out at Te Urewera, and the subsequent abuse of the term ‘terrorist’, only adds to the very real terror visited on the Tūhoe people by the New Zealand government over the past 140 years. As Tame Iti has said, the “mana of Tuhoe that has been compromised, trampled by Pakeha [for more than 100 years]… so this is not a new experience for me today.” (read more)

Dr. Paul Buchanan points out that, “All of [the charges] can be dealt with by criminal law. There’s no reason to criminalise political dissent or to make a separate category of political crimes that constitute terrorism… In liberal democracies we have an absolute right to dissent and in dissenting we are actually allowed the absolute right to misbehave… It’s only dictatorships, authoritarian regimes that criminalise dissent and make the term terrorism synonymous with dissent.” (see more) Unarguably, owning firearms without a license breaks New Zealand law. However, in labeling political activists ‘terrorists’ it is clear that something other than ‘the law’ was at stake for both the police and the government. Even though the charges of terrorism were dropped, the association of activism (and in particular Maori activism) with terrorism has been made. The function of the term ‘terrorist’ in this particular discourse is clearly meaningful, in the sense that it undermines the legitimacy of political dissent where Maori and activism are concerned in terms of mainstream media and public opinion. The damage has been done.

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“Tuhoe Never Signed the Fucking Treaty” (Black and red vivid on N.Z. wall map, 2011)

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

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Work produced for the Concerned Citizens auction, to raise money and awareness for the 2007 ‘terror raid’ arrestees, many of whom were Tūhoe activists; “18 people in New Zealand are currently being bankrupted by the cost of fighting questionable charges following the ‘Operation 8’ raids conducted around the country on October 15th, 2007. To address these concerns, more than 50 artists from around New Zealand are exhibiting their work in the hope of raising funds (and awareness) to support the victims of the raids and their families.” (read more)

This work sold for $200, which contributed to the jaw-dropping total of $6500 raised in just 3 short days, with all funds going to the arrestees and their families. Other artists involved in the exhibition included Tao Wells, Arlo Edwards, Kerry Ann Lee, Roger Morris, Hannah Salmon, Ellen Rodda, Bryce Galloway, Campbell Kneale, Richard Meros and Robyn Kenealy (see full list here).

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“Stolen Land” (NZ Parliament/Thistle Hall, 2011)

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

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Conceptual/sculptural piece exhibited in two parts: 1) the confiscation of a patch of land from Parliament grounds, and 2) this piece of land exhibited as part of The Briefcase Project (group show, curated by Richard Bartlett, Thistle Hall, 8-14 August). 19 artists were featured in the show, including Hannah Salmon, Ben Knight, Lance Ravenswood, Tui Harrington and Turrence Turner (among others).

“My favourite pieces are the visual discourse on the concept of “stolen land” and a beautiful piece of sound design, delivered on a very old school reel machine.” (Martyn Pepperell, Word on the Street)

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