The show takes its name from a question often asked of artists and is also often heard whispered to companion visitors in a gallery space… ‘What’s that?’
What’s that? A statement, a reaction, a query to find some understanding and justification for the transformation, of and from, object to art. A questioning of the aesthetic quality of an object and it’s identity as art. What is that thing? The questioning highlights a lack of understanding or acceptance for that thing. It poses a predetermined aesthetic value (gauge, condition, and stereotype) by the viewer/critic, of thing, it, art, and therefore exposes parameters of what is and isn’t acceptable for an artist to do.
Eight women artists of pacific heritage have made objects for this exhibition. Hamilton based artist and curator Leafa Wilson, is joined by Lonnie Hutchinson, Niki Hastings-McFall, Loloma Andrews, Letufa Taniela, Loretta Young, Leanne Clayton and Lina Marsh. Their work shows a range of ideas which have been honed over time, slick and shiny contemporary representations – some with an unmistakable pacific resonance.
As artists they engage with the questioning of their thing, that thing, their art work. Through contemporary representations, whether unmistakable or subtle in pacific heritage, they encounter critique based on predetermined parameters, identifiers, of their thing, their art work. The encounter of what is and isn’t acceptable for women with pacific heritage to do.
The exhibition was bought together by the Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust. Tautai is a national organisation based in Auckland which was established in the 1980s to mentor and support contemporary pacific art and artists. As a charitable trust it continues to pursue its goals through promoting and providing profile to pacific heritage artists and their work.