Rangituhia Hollis (Ngati Porou, Ngati Kahungunu)
Self-portrait, 2018 Digital print
This confronting self-portrait by artist Rangituhia Hollis is a new work created for EAST 2018 that alludes to how life challenges such as economic precariousness can render us physically and emotionally distressed. Hollis’s work also connects to a larger conversation of creative struggle by drawing on the emotive qualities of artists throughout history, such as the dramatic lighting and high contrasting colours reminiscent of paintings by Michelangelo Merisi do Caravaggio, and the physical and psychological despair depicted in many works by artists such os Francisco Goya or Francis Bacon. The brutal yet surgical incisions could be further likened to the site-specific work of sculptor Gordon Motto-Clark who was known for cutting buildings in half Referencing art history through contemporary media the work also draws into question the technical shift in creative practice from analogue methods to the computer aided tools used by Hollis.
My Father doesn’t ever want to see this work again. It wasn’t until I showed it to him that I realised the wider scope of the work. When I made it, I guess I made it in a bubble. I didn’t think about how it might be perceived by anyone else, rather I made it absorbed inside the frame. I didn’t think further than that.
I started making the self-portrait in 2017, along with portraits of family and friends. It is an output that came about as a part of an extension of a broader project. The as yet un-named project explores representations of experience which are typically written or conceptualised through drawing and 3D digital work. The project The text below was written years ago and remains an element within the project, which at present is itself formative.
This is Māua, Māua e – Here there’s no beautiful harmonics heard singing “Tātau, Tātau e” out here. You’re singing to yourself. & there’s no place for “he iwi tahi tātau” bullsh.t here, never was. It’s us and them. This is the time of Mātau – the ‘we but not you’ of impersonal pronouns. Actually there’s not much out here, naught but Annabelle and I hiding from view. It’s just us looking deep into where the pilgrims circled the wagons. We’d been trying to get there for years. Been waiting for a way to climb up from the last place we climbed to. But each step, each up step to places higher than before is met with the same gravity. Everyone, everywhere is tenuously balanced on the cusp of falling, or already fallen. We aint middle class but we’re practicing. Got the first step down, which is to fear that this life’ll all end with a thud! & another brown couple’ll hit the dirt. Brain says “Get back to your feet”. Rising I check to see if I left an impression in the earth. Brain says “You will always get back up, what else you gonna do”. So I stand and shake off of my clothes. Annabelle’s already up and running off into the horizon. A good time to get out if ever there was one. I take a deep breath and inhale the dust that’s been kicked up. Fine nebulaic particles swirling round – the fluid stuff of universe making and carcinogenic tumor growing. Fine fine dust. I recline, to smoke the casing air of roadside seating. A deep inhale and I taste the chill on my tongue of those frozen out. Roll around those words of defeat in my mouth long enough that I might turn them into weapons. Out here what grows more and more the focus, of mind is the warmth of each other. & Why? Eh! Et! To cling thoughts to every bit of heat, makes its increase inevitable. Hell! It works for demons, works for fear, then why not basic needs – energy invested & expended – to keep the ever fleeting energy in & by will alone produce heat.