Michael Parekowhai's bulls in Christchurch — 03.07.12

Michael Parekowhai's Christchurch exhibition – it’s sublime - come to Christchurch to see it – set in the city’s ruins.

Arts Foundation Patron and friend Henrietta Hall says "Michael Parekowhai's Christchurch exhibition – it’s sublime!   Come to Christchurch to see it – set in the city’s ruins"

Henrietta goes on to say..."wandering around the bulls, set outside in a cleared lot surrounded by Christchurch’s buildings being deconstructed, everyone with a smile on their faces at the beauty & whimsy of it. Then going up to the 2nd floor gallery in the only standing building on the other side of the road, with the room swelling with sound & that amazing piano. And, looking back & down to the bulls amongst the devastation, I couldn’t stop crying….."

Installed on a roadside empty site, the works are part of a month-long presentation organised by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.

Gallery director Jenny Harper says "We are honoured that, despite the gallery's closure, this major internationally-renowned Auckland artist who represented New Zealand so well in Venice has never faltered from showing his extraordinary installation here.  The contrast between Venice and the edge of the red zone on Madras Street could not be more marked, but our and Parekowhai's resolve to show it here has not faltered for over two years."

The exhibition of On First Looking into Chapman's Homer follows its presentation at the renowned Musée du quai Branly in Paris which gallery staff helped install after the Venice Biennale closed.  It will be available to the people of Christchurch to 29 July 2012.

The artist has reconfigured the installation especially for Christchurch. Here the spectacular carved Steinway piano, He Kōrero Pūrākau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu: Story of a New Zealand river will be upstairs in the Gallery's offsite space above NG boutique and The National at 212 Madras Street. On the now vacant lot over the road two bronze grand pianos, each supporting a life-sized bronze bull, take their place against a drastically altered landscape.

While all the works in On first looking into Chapman's Homer are sculptural, Parekowhai describes performance as central to his installation: 

The piano will be regularly played throughout the its showing in Christchurch as it was in Venice.  Four of the pianists who performed in Venice will play it again here during weekend opening hours with other slots filled by others, including music students from the University of Canterbury and CPIT.

The exhibition, which takes its name from a poem by English Romantic poet John Keats, represents a ‘classic turn' by Parekowhai.

"Parekowhai is well-known for surprising and witty works that bring together a range of narratives and are delivered with a showman's panache."

New Zealand's presence at the Venice Biennale is supported by Creative New Zealand, the Venice Biennale patrons, and Te Papa.  TelstraClear are supporting the exhibition in Christchurch by enabling visits of schools from low decile areas in the final two weeks.

Abridged and sourced - Christchurch City Council

Thanks to Henrietta Hall for the images.