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Curated by Ed Hanfling and students enrolled in the Media Arts contextual elective “After Post-modernism”, Nebula examines the significance of amorphous forces and relationships in the work of Amanda Watson, Diane Prince and Layne Waerea.
The artists show how a sense of tūrangawaewae, one’s foothold or attachment to land, may be bound up with a range of intangibles – feeling, wairua or spirit, kaitiakitanga or guardianship. Tensions emerge between affective and proprietary attachments to places and spaces, between the legal system and cultural rights and beliefs, and between perception and responsibility, aesthetics and activism.
These are weighty issues, perhaps, yet the overriding effect of the artworks is one of lightness. Nebula mixes playfulness with politics and takes delight in clouds and fog, abstract and ethereal forms.
Diane Prince (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu) combines hard-hitting imagery with technical finesse in media such as sculptural installation, weaving and ink drawing. She has a strong background in political activism going back to the 1977-78 Bastion Point occupation, and in 1995 her work in the landmark exhibition Korurangi: New Māori Art was removed from the Auckland Art Gallery after police threatened legal action. Diane’s drawings and woven judges’ wigs represent a critique of the legacy of colonisation in New Zealand’s legal system.
Layne Waerea (Te Arawa, Ngāti Kahungunu) performs irreverent interventions that variously assert or challenge the legal and commodity status of seemingly prosaic environments and phenomena. She records video and still images of herself carrying out audacious and enterprising acts on public and private property, playing with notions of ownership and selling improbable and elusive goods and services. Layne lives in Auckland and is founder and president of the chasing fog club (Est. 2014).
Amanda Watson is a Hamilton-based artist whose paintings visualise not just physical environments, bodies and materials, but metaphysical experiences, spirit or wairua. Her landscape-based abstractions respond to direct experience of the environments of Aotearoa New Zealand; they offer not a view as such but a sense of being in the landscape, or of nature acting upon the artist. Amanda’s recent work includes a series of crumpled canvas and paper works that register the structure of geological forms while also producing an airy, floating effect.
"Our whole happiness and power of energetic action depend upon our being able to breathe and live in cloud."
John Ruskin, Modern PaintersVol. 4, 1856
“She’s strong, yes, and capable and cunning—but also wounded, angry, and emotionally damaged. She’s a flawed, fully-realized character, the kind women rarely get to be in superhero films.”
Actor Karen Gillan on the role of Nebula in
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 2017
“It is your own relationship with what it is you care about that opens up the borderlands that are interesting … trying to understand what matters to you personally, as a historical person, as a political person, as an emotional person. All the ways that oneself is not just oneself. What matters? What do I care about? And what does that tell me?”
Donna Haraway (author of A Cyborg
Manifesto, 1984), 2015
Header image: Amanda Watson, (detail)