The main exhibition space of Te Manawa’s Gallery building has been transformed into a twilight of bright colour, its purposely dark interior lit only by the glowing neon of ATA: a third reflection, an exhibition of works by Professor Bob Jahnke.
These pieces take the familiar medium of neon lights and turn it toward examining narratives with deep roots in Māori culture, spirituality and cosmology
By incorporating classical Māori artistic elements, such as the diamond, alongside more contemporary religious symbols – the cross, the club of Rua Kēnana’s religion – into spaces that have no clear beginning or ending, Jahnke creates a meditation on whakapapa as a summation of many different threads of Māori life.
ATA is accessible to young and old alike. Professor Jahnke has described how te reo Māori immersion students were absorbed by “Navarro tukutuku”, a sculpture where the word “tuku” disappears into – or does it emerge from? – the darkness. The children “were all over the TUKU work, leaving their fingerprints as they peered into the depths to find Tāne,” he said.
In the spirit of ATA’s search for that with no end or beginning, it is joined in Gallery One by Israel Tangaroa Birch’s Ara-i-te-uru. It too uses reflection and light, its waves of folded steel appearing to recede into the distance at floor level, inviting the viewer to follow, to walk the path.
These twin exhibitions are open until 6 February. A catalogue of ATA: the third reflection, along with an essay by Dr Huhana Smith discussing the significance of the exhibition’s imagery, can be found here.
Rob Mildon, when not writing for Te Manawa, recedes into the distance at floor level