Ink, hair and henna tell stories of cultural identity

Press Release – Wellington City Council

In today’s multi-cultural society, how does one find a symbol, an idol, or an embodiment of our nation? Josephine O’Sullivan works with three women from different cultures to investigate how they embody their culture in Body of Work: Athena, opening at …27 October 2011

Ink, hair and henna tell stories of cultural identity

In today’s multi-cultural society, how does one find a symbol, an idol, or an embodiment of our nation? Josephine O’Sullivan works with three women from different cultures to investigate how they embody their culture in Body of Work: Athena, opening at Toi Pōneke gallery from October 28 until November 17. A fusion of performance art and installation; Body of Work: Athena is the second of six works which investigate the history of the female body. In Athena, these three women: one a Tāngata whenua of New Zealand, and two women who have immigrated from Jamaica and the United Arab Emirates.

The first of this series Body of Work: Venus was presented in The Performance Arcade 2011 on the Wellington Waterfront. A live fashion studio was created where a seamstress, make-up artist, photographer and digital artist attempted to sculpt three women into the idealised feminine form of Venus.

In this second vignette, O’Sulllivan has investigated the history of using female figures as personifications of culture. From Athens’ namesake, Athena and Britain’s Brittania to Zealandia – the female symbol used widely in the first half last century.

The opening performance on Friday October 28 is Te Uhi a Mataora will be performed by Mabelle Dennison with a Tā moko artist and her whanau. On Saturday November 5 Melissa Philips, performs Extended Roots using hair-braiding processes. In the final performance on Saturday November 12, Ban Abdul uses henna to explore her Muslim roots in Etch Me Out. Each of these performances examines the woman’s journey through rites of passage and looks at how this is marked on the body. The markings will travel beyond the body to the walls and surfaces of the gallery.

“I look forward to seeing the stories of these women mapped out on their bodies and in space surrounding them,” says Josephine.

“Each of these three women will show their strength of character and allow their personal stories to shine through, allowing for the emergence of new role models to relate and aspire to.”

Body of Work: Athena, opening at Toi Pōneke gallery from October 28 until November 17.

Performance dates:
Friday October 28, 10am – 4pm – Te Uhi a Mataora, performed by Mabelle Dennison
Saturday November 5, 10am – 4pm – Extended Roots, performed by Melissa Philips
Saturday November 12, 10am – 4pm – Etch Me Out, performed by Ban Abdul

http://www.wellingtonnz2011.com/

ENDS

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