IN HER IMAGE
12 December 2020 - 28 March 2021
Retrospective in shape and content, IN HER IMAGE turns to women-centred art practices and realms of the sacred. From postmodern feminisms and voices of mana wāhine, to contemporary embodiments and medieval imaginings, IN HER IMAGE draws together a diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand herstory. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery provided the research base for this exhibition, with support from Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena and the loan of a hook but no fish (2017; 2020) by Sriwhana Spong.
Across the exhibition, definitions of the sacred are formed in relation to representations of the body, to agency and language, and the deep significance of the natural world. Experiential and embodied spiritual sensibilities highlight the politicisation of religion, where the personal and the political are acknowledged as aligned with one’s spiritual life. Experiential, exploratory, and te ao Māori knowledge systems become spiritual foundations – the ground beneath one’s feet, a land of one’s own, or the affirmation of an intrinsic connection to whenua.
IN HER IMAGE features both critical and celebratory points of view. A sentimental ‘Madonna and Child’ sits in contrast with active and politicised positions. Postmodern feminisms and contemporary historicisms re-work the ground of inherited European religious narratives and iconography. The body, and its connection to place, becomes a focus of enquiry across a range of personal, political and spiritual concerns.
This exhibition presents a spectrum of sacred herstory through the work of some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most treasured artists, housed in Ōtepoti Dunedin’s rich heritage collections and beyond. Each work tells its own story, through the artist’s own image or the figure of another, speaking to aspects of approaching, revising or reclaiming realms of the sacred in her image.
Curated by Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Curatorial Intern, Joanna Osborne