March 22, 2016 - New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Lisa Reihana: Emissaries
March 22, 2016

New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

View of Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015. Courtesy Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of Auckland Art Gallery.

Lisa Reihana
May 13–October 26, 2017
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Multimedia artist Lisa Reihana has been selected for the New Zealand pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Reihana’s exhibition, Emissaries, will include her panoramic video in Pursuit of Venus [infected], expanded and augmented with a series of new photographic works and transported half a world away from New Zealand to Venice. The exhibition will be curated by Rhana Devenport.

Alastair Carruthers, Commissioner for New Zealand at the 2017 Venice Biennale, says "in Pursuit of Venus [infected] has already captured a huge New Zealand audience and international attention with its sensuous reimagining of people, place and time. In Venice in 2017, Lisa Reihana will present a further evolution of her vast and beguiling vision, with new accompanying work. The exhibition will be irresistible.”

Emissaries will be located in the Tesa dell'Isolotto, the oldest Biennale building in the the Arsenale. Carruthers says this is the first time the New Zealand pavilion has been located within the Biennale’s official exhibition area. He says, “The exhibition will be at the heart of the Biennale in the magnificent historic shipyard of Venice, a naval basin that still operates and where the vessels of countless emissaries were once built—up to one per day.” 

In Pursuit of Venus [infected] is a filmic re-imagining of the French scenic wallpaper Les Sauvages De La Mer Pacifique, 1804–05. Two hundred years later, Lisa Reihana employs 21st century digital technologies to animate the wallpaper scenes. Enlivened with the sights and sounds of performance, cultural ceremonies and encounters, an expansive video panorama is populated by a myriad of people drawn from across New Zealand and the Pacific as well as European shores.

Challenging historical and contemporary stereotypes, the work returns the gaze of imperialism with a speculative twist that disrupts notions of beauty, authenticity, history and myth. As a multi-channel projection, the work creates an immersive cinematic experience.

Lisa Reihana (b 1964) completed a Masters in Design from the School of Visual Art and Design, Unitec in Auckland in 2014 and graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 1987.

Of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tū descent, she lives and works in Auckland.

Reihana’s work has featured in significant international exhibitions including the Museum van Loon, the Netherlands; the Amsterdam Film + Media Arts Festival; the Samstag Museum in Toronto; the Campbelltown Arts Centre, Australia; the Havana Biennale; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Liverpool Biennale, UK; the Asia Society Museum, New York; the Noumea Biennale, New Caledonia; the 12th Biennale of Sydney; and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane.

Reihana was made an Arts Laureate by the New Zealand Arts Foundation in 2014. She was shortlisted for the Signature Art Prize at the Singapore Art Museum in 2014 for in Pursuit of Venus; as well as the Double Take Anne Landa Award, Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2009 and the Walters Prize at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in 2008, both for Digital Marae. She has recently been shortlisted for the 2016 Walters Prize for in Pursuit of Venus [infected]. 

Rhana Devenport is director of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. She has held senior positions with the the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand (2006–13); Biennale of Sydney (2005–06); Artspace NZ (2005); and the Sydney Festival (2004); and was Senior Project Officer for the Asia Pacific Triennial with the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (1994–2004).

New Zealand’s arts development agency, Creative New Zealand, funds and administers New Zealand’s presence at the Venice Biennale. 

New Zealand has exhibited at the Venice Biennale since 2001. New Zealand artists who have exhibited are: Peter Robinson and Jacqueline Fraser (2001); Michael Stevenson (2003); et al. (2005); Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard (2009); Michael Parekowhai (2011); Bill Culbert (2013); and Simon Denny (2015).

New Zealand Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
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