Lisa Reihana
from the listing ARTY
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Lisa Reihana explores a contemporary reflection based on an experimental cinematographic mode.
Relation to the body, the rituel and signs of recognition. Her works offers a rich overview of human diversity. Digging in her roots, refering to the family portrait tradition.
Ser videos installations create a sonic and visual environment that delivers a cultural medley of occidental and oceanian cultures, motion, repetitive concept and digital art.
Lisa Reihana salutes us with her welcoming Haka from her faraway island.
Sabine Morandini

Lisa Shelley & Sabine Morandini : You seem to often mix western civilization with primitive and native, why is that?
Lisa Reihana : I am of mixed descent: Maori, English, Welsh.... My education is informed by Western ideas, so my artistic practice offers opportunities to investigate Maori philosophy and pedagogy; and to understand who I am and why I am here at this time. The term ‘primitive’ has negative and colonial associations, I use digital technologies as a counterpoint to these notions therefore aligning indigenous people with high-tech. Maori see every person as an embodiment of the past present and future. I’m developing a new language to counter histories, and create new ones.

LS & SM  Is this a conflictual ( cultural choc)?
LR : Every person has a perspective on right and wrong. Some thought processes stifle the creative process, I prefer to find ways of thinking that allows either me or others the space to make. So as a teacher my gift is to offer permission to do the work.

LS & SM : Do you think that body and looks have a function?
LR : Yes, tattoo or Ta Moko as it is known in Aotearoa, New Zealand is practiced and its’ symbolic language understood… through it Maori announce themselves, those versed in understanding this art-form will distinguish the style and tattooist, perhaps know what tribe the wearer comes from. Ta Moko is a painful undertaking that forever marks the wearer, so it is for cultural not fashion reasons that the process is undertaken. Costume is important too – why else is there such a huge International fashion industry? Traditional Maori fibre techniques are honoured and have been readapted for today’s needs. As in all nations clothing is coded, it is another visual language. Dressing is symbolic.

LS & SM : Does tradition rime with conservatism?
LR : The notion of tradition is important to Maori, but that doesn’t mean conservatism; Maori are reknown for adopting and adapting techniques and ideas – using them as necessary. Integrity is the important factor; we can draw upon what has gone before to open up the new.

LS & SM : Where do you live in New Zealand?
LR: I live in Central Auckland - the largest city in New Zealand, having said that, it has a population of 1.5 million people. It is a great place, surrounded by many harbours and has temperate climate. You can be at the most astonishing beaches in 40 minutes. When I host International guests I take them to the West Coast – a place of wild winds, black sands, fierce waves. It always impresses and makes one feel alive.

LS & SM : What is the vision of the Contemporary Art Market from New Zeeland? We have little information about New Zealand artistic scene in Europe, can you tell us about it?
LR : There are some great New Zealand artists, a thriving market that both suffers and gains from being so far from the ‘Western centers of great art’. It’s less hierarchical than overseas… We suffer perhaps from less money and associated scale of vision; the upside is there is a unique art scene informed by our Pacific locale. Work ranges from conceptual through to crochet, minimal to high-tech. any Fasecineshion readers who seek more information - google ‘The Big Idea’; ‘Govett Brewster Gallery’; ‘Artspace Gallery’ and ‘Lindauer Online’…

LS & SM : Do you have new projects?
LR : I’m a slow and steady schemer and have new exciting projects in the pipeline. My main interest is always based around the camera, so Photographic and Moving Image projects keep me awake at night.
I’ve recently finished PELT a suite of 4 photographic works, my first nudes. In these I was keen to develop a language of mythology with no eroticism – to confound the usual visual pleasure associated when viewing the female body – no easy feat!
I recently completed a short experimental film for Matariki [Maori New Year] a technically challenging video using 8 projectors. It was great to deal with an expanded field of view, and to fill a composition 32 meters long and 3 meters wide. My next project builds on this idea looking at 18th Century French Scenic Wallpapers. These represent a pinnacle of artisan woodblock techniques, and I want to create a homage to these bringing the scenes to life in video – cant wait.

LS & SM : What artists influence you?
LR :
There are so many it seems mean to mention so few, I love the weird surreal nature of artists such as Matthew Barney, Miwa Yanagi & Yayoi Kusama; I am inspired by Maori women who have proven that a life in film is possible – Merata Mita & Ramai Hayward. Tracey Moffatt who teased me when it was necessary. I am inspired by the work by AES+F for sheer ballsiness, scale and combining funky imagery and questionable material in a wild way…, music is important too –  right now I’m looking at Christian Marclay, his conceptual investigation of sound through sculpture. My partner James Pinker is a musician and his support is fundamental to my practice.

LS & SM : Did Kinetic Art influence your work?
LR :
During my years attending art school I worked in an Animation studio to financially support myself. This breaking down of movement and building time profoundly influenced my thinking and I made several animation films. I continue this work and attempt to tell a story using just one image.

LS & SM : What fascinates you?
LR : Presenting strong images of women, mythology, creating a new space to live, seeing what comes next,… Science fiction. I like to imagine what soundtrack I would choose to accompany a scene of me robbing a bank, over the years it changes, and I can apply this idea to any given situation and make it more intriguing.

Interview by Lisa Shelley & SM- August 2010

Copyright Lisa Reihana


Copyrights Lisa Reihana
Fantastic Eggs
Native Portraits
Fluffy Fings



Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia. ‘Digital Marae’

Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, NZ 'Digital Marae' installation

Ibrahim Hussein Museum, Langkawi, Malyasia

Susan O' Connor Foundation, Texas USA 'Native Portraits n.19897'

Te Papa Tongarewa New Zealand ‘Native Portraits n.19897’, ‘Digital Marae’

Staalich Museen Zu Berlin Germany ‘Wog Features’ & ‘Tauira’

Aboriginal Film Archive Australia ‘Wog Features’ & ‘Make U My Own’

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