Suite 20/21: Part One
Ayesha Green: Wrapped up in Clouds
29 August 2020 - 29 November 2020
A DPAG Biennial Contemporary Dunedin Programme
Far from being neutral, historical depictions and written accounts of the landscape have been closely shaped by subjective views and shifting cultural power. In Wrapped up in Clouds Ayesha Green explores multiple views of the landscape, considering how these are implicated in systems of power and control. Green’s work begins to tease out understandings of ‘landscape’ as a fluid subject – a site of cultural performance that can be complicated, destabilised and enlivened through the acts of recording, painting, or documentation.1
The works in this exhibition traverse a range of ways through which we have come to understand the land. In the diptych All of my lovers are immigrants (smooth my pillow) (2020), Green paints two embracing couples, each entwined beneath an extravagant botanical quilt. The botanical images represent the landscape in these paintings, with Green using the work to consider ‘the relationships between land, body, and knowledge’ as well as the ‘politics and weaponising of love and land’.2
Botanical classification and art are ways that Green considers the subjective nature of describing the landscape. She looks to diverse sources, ranging from colonial botanists and naturalists like Joseph Banks (1743-1820) and Daniel Solander (1733-1782), to the work of modern botanical artists such as Audrey Eagle (b.1925), and the writing of ecologist Geoff Park (1946-2009). Considered through these filters, Green’s botanical works challenge the authority of the rendered image – reminding the viewer that every specimen drawing, despite its age or status, is a subjective form, shaped both by context and the identity of its maker.
Like images, the written word is also a slippery medium. Landscape Painting (2020) hinges on the process of translating language. In this ceramic installation Green explores words in English and te reo Māori that have been used to describe landscape features, centring on the varying meanings of kupu Māori in relation to the land and the body. The series Dear Ayesha, love from Joseph (2020) is populated with landscape descriptions written by Joseph Banks, drawn out of his HMS Endeavour journal. Green paints in kōkōwai, or red ochre earth, reshaping Banks’ words out of the whenua of the country he describes.3 Coming full circle within her exhibition, Green uses her work to pose an alternative description of the landscape that is grounded in her own critical enquiry and her lived experience of this place.
Ko ngā whakaahuatanga o nehe, ko ngā tuhinga o mua mō ngā horanuku, ehara rawa i te mea he herekore, kua waihangahia e ngā tirohanga motuhake o te tangata, e ngā nukunukuhanga hoki o te mana ahurea. Ki, Kua tākaia ki ngā Kapua, ka torotoroa e Ayesha Green, mā tana mahi auaha, ētahi tirohanga anō atu o te horanuku e āta aro atu ai ki te hīrautanga o ēnei tirohanga ki ngā pūnaha whakahaere mana, ki ngā pūnaha whakahaere pāpori hoki. Kei te tīmata te mahi a Green ki te ketuketu i ngā pūrangiahotanga o ‘horanuku’ hei kaupapa taurangi - he papa-tū-waewae e uaua ana, e pōraruraru ana, e whakaoho ana hoki mā te rīkoata atu, mā te peita atu, mā te roroki tuhituhi rānei.1
Ko ngā mahi toi i tēnei whakaahuaranga ka kapi i ētahi ara mā reira kua mārama i te whenua. Kei te peita puka, Ko aku makau katoa he tauhou (whakamāenetia taku pira)(2020), ka peitahia e Green kia rua ngā takirua e awhiawhi ana, kua tāwhiwhi ki raro i tētahi papangarua huaota whakamiharo. I ēnei peita he mata o te horanuku ngā āhua huaota, ko tā Green whakaaro, ko ‘te raranga tahitanga o te whenua, o te tinana, o te mātauranga hoki’, ā, ko te ‘tōrangapū, ko te whakarākauhanga ririhanga o te aroha me te whenua’ hoki’.2
Ko tētahi o ngā ara whakaaro o Green ki te āhua motuhake o te whakaahuatanga o te horanuku, ko te wehewehenga huaota me te mahi toi. He kanorau ngā puna i tirotiro ai ia, mai i ngā kaihuaota taipūwhenua me ngā kaikoiora pērā i a Joseph Banks (1743-1820) rāua ko Daniel Solander (1733-1782), ki te mahi o ngā kaikoiora hou pērā i a Audrey Eagle (b. 1925), ki ngā tuhinga o kairauropi Geoff Park (1946-2009). Nā ēnei momo tirohanga rerekē ka werohia te mana o te āhua waihanga e ngā mahi toi o Green - he mea whakamahara ki te kaimātakitaki ko tā ia whakaahua o te tīpakonga, ahakoa tana pakeke, ahakoa rānei te nui o tōna mana, he āhua motuhake kua waihangahia e te horopaki, e te tuakiri hoki o te ringa nāna ia i hanga.
Pērā tonu i te āhua, ko te kupu kua tuhia he papa māeneene. Ko tā Peita Horanuku
(2020), ka whakawhirinaki atu ki te tukanga o te mahi whakamāori i te kupu. I tēnei whakatūranga mahi uku e torotoro atu ai a Green i ngā kupu i te reo Pākehā, i te reo Māori hoki kua whakamahia ki te whakaahua i ngā āhua o te horanuku, e aro atu ana ki ngā tikanga huhua o ngā kupu Māori e hāngai ana ki te whenua, ā, ki te tinana hoki. Ko te raupapa mahi, E taku tau Ayesha, nō te aroha nā Joseph (2020) kua whakakīia ki ngā momo whakaahuatanga horanuku kua tuhia e Joseph Banks, kua tōia i tana hautaka nō te HMS Endeavour. Mā te kōkōwai, arā, mā te one kura e peita ai a Green, e waihanga anō ai a Green, ngā kupu o Banks ki te one o te whenua i whakaahuaria ai e ia.3 Hei whakahokinga, hei whakakapinga i tana whakaaturanga, ka whakatakotoria e Green he whakaahuatanga rerekē o te horanuku, kua whai tāmore i ōna ake ui aro haehae, ā, i ōna ake wheako hoki.
1. For further reading see Geoff Park, Theatre Country: Essays on Landscape & Whenua. Victoria University Press (Wellington: 2006)
2. Artist communication, July 2020
3.Sir Joseph Banks, The Endeavour Journal of Sir Joseph Banks [25 August 1768-12 July 1771]
Following are two video clips:
– A te reo Māori introduction for this exhibition in association with Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2020
– Gallery curator, Lucy Hammonds, discusses Ayesha Green's 'I thought I heard you crying in the forest' 2020 - one of the key works in Wrapped up in Clouds.