Aboriginal and Māori artists triumph at Venice Biennale


Mataaho Collective, Takapau 2022. Venice Biennale. Photography: Ben Stewart.
Mataaho Collective, Takapau 2022. Venice Biennale. Photography: Ben Stewart.
La Biennale di Venezia is the world's oldest and most renowned art biennale.

The indigenous art of Aotearoa and Australia has been celebrated at the Venice Biennale, taking out top awards.

Mataaho Collective, comprising four wāhine Māori practitioners, took home the Golden Lion for their participation in the main exhibition Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere with their immersive installation Takapau.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal artist Archie Moore’s installation kith and kin was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.

On winning the award, Mataaho Collective said they had dedicated their careers to collectivity and are grateful for the recognition.

“It doesn’t just feel like our award, but recognition of our supportive families, our visionary colleagues, our generous mentors and the indigenous artists of the future,” they said in a statement on social media.

The collective comprises Erena Arapere-Baker (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangātira), Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Pūkeko), Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) and Terri Te Tau (Rangitāne ki Wairarapa).

Curated by Dr Nina Tonga for Te Papa Tongarewa, Takapau was created with 200 sqm of woven reflective truck strops.

The installation is an ode to examples of fine ceremonial woven mats, the research of Dr Ngahuia Murphy, and the legacy of artist Kura Te Waru Rewiri. The judges described Takapau as being “both a cosmology and a shelter”.

“Its impressive scale is a feat of engineering that was only made possible by the collective strength and creativity of the group,” the judges said.

“The dazzling pattern of shadows cast on the walls and floor harks back to ancestral techniques and gestures to future uses of such techniques.”

In kith and kin, curated by Ellie Buttrose, Moore transformed the Australia Pavilion with an expansive, genealogical chart spanning 65,000 years.

In their judgement of kith and kin, the judges said Moore’s work stood out for “its strong aesthetic, its lyricism, and its invocation of shared loss for occluded pasts”.

“In this quietly powerful pavilion, Archie Moore worked for months to hand-draw with chalk a monumental First Nations family tree,” the judges said.

“Thus 65,000 years of history (both recorded and lost) are inscribed on the dark walls as well as on the ceiling, asking viewers to fill in blanks and take in the inherent fragility of this mournful archive.

“Floating in a moat of water are redacted official State records, reflecting Moore’s intense research as well as the high rates of incarceration of First Nations’ people.”

Moore said he was “very grateful” for the accolade. “It makes me feel honoured to be rewarded for the hard work one does,” he said.

“I am grateful to everyone who has always been part of my journey – from my kith to my kin – to my Creative Australia team and everyone else back home and those of the Venice lagoon.”

Established in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia is the world’s oldest and most renowned art biennale. The Golden Lion is considered one of the highest accolades for art in the world.


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