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Art Speaks to Power

Elisabeth Pointon, A Guide To: Effective Implementation Of Self-Service, 2017, Digital Video Still, Courtesy Of The Artist.
Kuki kai kai Kuki - Cook food, eat Cook, 2018. Angarua (shells), peita, taura(nylon rope)
This August, The Dowse Art Museum opens two shows that celebrate the power of art.


In The Future of Work, Senior Curator Melanie Oliver has brought together a selection of art works and social history documents that make us think about the changing nature of work.  This exhibition captures the industrial history of Lower Hutt, union movements, women entering the workforce, the explosion of factory work, mass job losses, globalisation and today’s rise of artificial intelligence. In doing so, Oliver continues a conversation begun with the first film ever made which captured workers leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon, France in 1895, as discussed in Harun Farocki’s film essay.

“These days, we are expected to always be on, to check emails, work split shifts and answer social media 24/7,” said Senior Curator Melanie Oliver.  “Art helps us to imagine beyond how things are and see how we can shape our working lives in an automated future.  With factory production off-shore, and computers taking over, how can, and should we, use our days?  We all know there is inequality, how can we use this moment of change to do something about it?”

In the neighbouring gallery space, Upper Hutt based contemporary jeweller, Neke Moa (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Ahuriri, Kai Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Tūwharetoa) will challenge our shared colonial history in Nō Te Moananui-a-Kiwa - stories from the Pacific.

“In this exhibition I’m using contemporary jewellery to highlight how the post colonisation of Māori and Pacific peoples affects our hauora, wellbeing,” said Neke Moa.  “This year is the 250th anniversary of the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans.  There’s a huge government funded effort to mark and even celebrate this occasion.  While I recognise the significance of that meeting, a celebration didn’t feel right.  Instead, this show is my way of recognising the effects of colonisation and challenging society to do better for indigenous people throughout the Pacific.”

Both The Future of Work and Nō Te Moanui-a-Kiwa – stories from the Pacific use contemporary art to challenge presumptions and invite positive change. The displays ask audiences to reconsider our shared past and whether we can do better now?  Can we shape a more progressive society using the benefit of hindsight and the power of art?

The Future of Work
3 August – 17 November 2019
Featuring works from Berwick Street Collective, Harun Farocki, Fiona Jack, Elisabeth Pointon, Public Share, Deborah Rundle, Allan Sekula & Noël Burch, John Vea, Peter Wareing and more.

Neke Moa: Nō Te Moanui-a-Kiwa – stories from the Pacific
3 August – 10 November 2019
Featuring new and recent works by Upper Hutt based contemporary jeweller, Neke Moa (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Ahuriri, Kai Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Tūwharetoa).

For more information please contact Alex Grace, Communications Manager, 022 6242152


Contact details: 
Alexandra Grace 0226242152

Written by

The Dowse Art Museum

21 Jun 2019