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Artist Talk: Lisa Reihana

Artist Talk: Lisa Reihana

Time: 18.09.19  17:00–18:00
Location: Kumu exhibition spaces
Price: museum admission

Wed, 18.09, at 5 pm On 18 September at 5 pm, we invite the public to the exhibition The Conqueror’s Eye: Lisa Reihana’s In Pursuit of Venus to participate in an artist talk with Lisa Reihana, an artist from New Zealand (held in English). The talk will be moderated by the curator and historian Linda Kaljundi.

The talk will focus on the background of the artist’s work and her relationship to colonial visual culture. How does Lisa Reihana see the images created by the new settlers of the indigenous people of New Zealand as a barbaric and exotic Other? Is her strategy to undermine the colonial viewpoint, to express irony, or something completely different? Besides Reihana’s oeuvre, the exposition includes pictures of the native peoples of the Baltic countries, in which a romanticised view of the peasants is mixed with the colonialist view. Can the artist from New Zealand detect any similarities in how Baltic and Polynesian natives have been visually depicted?

Lisa Reihana (1964) is a multidisciplinary artist of Maori (Ngā Puhi) origin, who lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. Through her varied creative practices, she examines the presentation of identity and history in society and culture. She is also interested in the intersections of history, heritage and identity with locations and communities. Reihana pays a lot of attention to the complexities of modern imagery in photography and film in her oeuvre.

Linda Kaljundi (1979) is a historian working at the University of Tallinn. In 2019‒2020, she is working as a visiting curator in Kumu. She has studied stereotypes of heathens and other “strange” peoples in medieval and early modern historical writings as well as how those stereotypes have lingered in more modern times. Kaljundi’s other research topic is historical memory, i.e. remembering historical events, the transformation of memory over time, the national and global character of memory, and conflicting memories and the impact of culture (art, literature, etc.) on how history is remembered.

The focal piece of The Conqueror’s Eye is Lisa Reihana’s powerful video art piece In Pursuit of Venus, which represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2017. The video stems from 19th-century visual culture and the colonialist outlook apparent in it in relation to the nature and people of the colonies. Historical images from the Baltic German culture offer similar examples. The curators of the exhibition are the art historians Kadi Polli and Eha Komissarov and the historian Linda Kaljundi.

Lisa Reihana. In Pursuit of Venus. Video still. 2015–2017. Courtesy of the artist