Sex Trade/Gift for Banks/Dancing Lovers/Sextant Lesson (18550/19205)

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Pigment print on paper, mounted on aluminium dibond behind Perspex, edition 3/9
762 x 2680mm

This work is a still image taken from Lisa Reihana’s monumental panoramic video in Pursuit of Venus [infected], which premiered at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in 2015. It was made in response to a French wallpaper design from the early 1800s known as ‘Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique’. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū notes that the artist ‘filmed her own tableau of Oceanic peoples’ encounters with Captain Cook and his men. [This] scene is complex and challenges colonial perspectives and historic interpretations, particularly around how women were used as objects for trade.’

In creating in Pursuit of Venus [infected], Reihana depended both on Moana knowledge, passed down through the generations, and on the collections of taonga and writings assembled by those participated in Cook’s voyages. The video and the associated stills are an act of revision, restoration, and re-centring, as well as a potent meditation on cross-cultural contact. The artist has commented, ‘When you suddenly meet new people and new things are happening, you have to decipher and make sense of the world yourself. There will always be lots of misunderstanding—layers of misunderstanding—and that is what is going to happen for viewers too.’

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Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased September 2018