Seven years in the making - whangarei art museum is proud to announce this major survey exhibition of 25 years of creative art by one of new zealand / aotearoa's leading pacific island artists.
As one of the newer generation of 'nesian renaissance' pacific voices now resonating across the globe, Ioane (John) Ioane brings fresh hiphop stylz to his multi-media art together with cerebral humanity and urban savvy.
Ioane's career spans work as a multi media performance artist, art teacher in South Auckland Schools such as Tangaroa College, public sculpture commissions and exhibitions in New Zealand and New York, Europe, Australia and the Pacific - including venues which deliberately range from the arcane and venerable to the prosaic and provocative. They include Cambridge University England, Auckland Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery, St Matthews-in-the-City Auckland, the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea and across the spectrum to The Den Adult sex shop on K' Road, Auckland.
His career has always been grounded in investigative research and a very personal and intuitive response to collective and individual identity. Unlike an earlier generation of pioneer Pacific artists, who struggled with ultimate success, to intersect a traditional Pacific visual language into contemporary palagi artmaking, new-wave Pacific and Maori artists like Ioane and Michael Parekowhai are now creating a new and evocative visual language.
The exhibition content will be both controversial and shimmeringly elegant - very much his style! His painting, sculpture, music, video and film and performance, body adornment and oratory are all connected as one in his art. He has always been concerned with articulating social and specifically Pacific community issues in his work practice. His themes and motifs reflect a contemporary social relevance explored through a lens of historical narratives and oral history of Samoa and the wider Pacific. These dual and shared histories of Pacific nations are too often segregated into a new and contestable 'gang culture' and petty nationalism when transplanted to palagi Aotearoa. An installation work from the Te Papa collection 'Polly Wants A Cracker' questions current Pacific values of sensuality and sexual identity and has an R18 rating - this work has never been shown by Te Papa to date and will be its first public gallery 'outing' in New Zealand. Just as topical will be the newly commissioned work by WAM for the exhibition. This consists of two body-cast sculptures of a Polynesian male and female, fabricated in sugar crystals and encased in Perspex vitrines. Once again he is questioning and exploring, this time spotlighting the deadly ravages of diabetes in Pacific Island communities. This powerful new installation will be filmed on-line as it is gradually devoured by ants which are allowed into the cases through Perspex feeder tubes into the floor to the ground below. The slow process of disintegration will be a poignant metaphor for the nascent obesity epidemic which post-modern society has imposed on Pacific Island people.
'escalating rates of diabetes among indigenous cultures could make the maori and Polynesian races extinct before the end of the century' Australian expert Professor Paul Zimmet of Monash University International Diabetes Institute warns.
This is a subject close to the artist's heart - and his family. Northland District Health Board Diabetes Unit and the late Hon. Brian Donnelly MP have been highly supportive of funding support for this project at WAM which is finally realized here in the exhibition.
In a way not unlike the large island village kumete or festival food bowl in which everyone contributes some food, Ioane has often contributed in partnership to artistic projects with many other well know Pacific artists such as Lonnie Hutchinson, Andy Leleisiuao, Shigeyuki Kihara, Filipe Tohi and Lily Laita. Amidst the plethora of Pacifika themed exhibitions over the past years most of which Ioane and his colleagues have featured in, it is important to acknowledge that these artists are also significant mid-career 'mainstream' artists in their own right too - not merely 'ghettoized' as NZ/ Pacific artists. In this exhibition John Ioane, singularly stands tall as one of New Zealand's most compelling and accomplished contemporary artists.