13 Dec 2010
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On first looking into Chapman’s Homer, a sculptural installation by Michael Parekowhai, will be exhibited at the 54th Venice Biennale in the Palazzo Loredan dell’Ambasciatore from 4 June 2011.
Earlier this year Parekowhai, one of New Zealand’s most dynamic contemporary artists, was invited by Creative New Zealand and 2011 Venice Biennale Commissioner Jenny Harper to represent Aotearoa at this pre-eminent global contemporary art event.
His installation will includethe followingcomponents; two grand pianos fabricated in bronze supporting two cast bronze bulls; an intricately-carved Steinway concert grand piano; a figure from the Kapa Haka series and a small bronze olive tree sapling. On one grand piano (A peak in Darien) a full-size bull rests on the closed lid with its massive body suggesting the folding forms of landscape. On the other (Chapman’s Homer), the bull stands firm offering an eye-to-eye challenge for anyone prepared to take a seat at the keyboard.
The carved Steinway piano He Korero Purakau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu Story of a New Zealand River will be played during the exhibition with a programme of special performances. If the sculptures are a source of visual surprise for visitors, it is the music that will greet them when they arrive.
Parekowhai says, "While the objects in On first looking into Chapman's Homer are important, the real meaning of the work will come through the music. Just as my work Ten Guitars was not about the instruments themselves but about the way they brought people together, performance is central to understanding On first looking into Chapman's Homer because music fills a space like no object can."
The overall title for the project is based on the poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer by the nineteenth-century English Romantic poet John Keats.
Commissioner Jenny Harper said, "On first looking at Chapman's Homer is topical and polished. Michael Parekowhai will create a sense of drama and surprise for the large audiences. His work operates on many different levels of meaning and he will certainly contribute to the growth of New Zealand's reputation as an increasingly important and sought-after player in the world of visual arts. "
Located on Venice's main tourist and transport route, the Grand Canal, the venue for the work Palazzo Loredan dell'Ambasciatore will achieve significant profile for New Zealand. Near the prestigious Gallerie dell'Accademia, the palazzo is one of the finest in Venice and is an ideal position to attract the attention of biennale visitors.
The palazzo is a 15th-century Gothic palace that once belonged to the noble Loredan family and was the birthplace of not one, but two ancient Doges of Venice. A brand new Biennale venue, Parekowhai will use both its garden and foyers. Photographs of the venue can be viewed at the New Zealand at the Venice Biennale Facebook page.
The Venice Biennale is the cornerstone of Creative New Zealand’s international visual arts strategy. In December 2007 Creative New Zealand’s Arts Council committed to a New Zealand presentation at this prestigious international exhibition for 2009, 2011 and 2013.
More information can be found at www.nzatvenice.com