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Cold Islanders bare their art

24 August 2017

Reaction to Insults2

Image: A video still from Darcell Apelu’s Reaction to Insults featuring in Waikato Museum’s upcoming exhibition The Cold Islanders: Art on the Pacific Spectrum.

An exhibition of art exploring the life experiences of a growing group of New Zealanders opens at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato this Saturday, 26 August.

The Cold Islanders: Art on the Pacific Spectrum features art by second and third-generation migrant New Zealanders who identify or are identified as Pacific Islanders, but have a minimal physical connection to their respective islands.

The term “Cold Islanders” is the brain child of Waikato Museum Curator Leafa Wilson. “There isn’t a theoretical, anthropological or academic basis for the coining of the phrase Cold Islander,” she says. “In many ways, I am describing my own experience after years of observing the art scene known as ‘Pacific art’.”

“The Cold Islanders have adjusted to the cold climes of Aotearoa, as opposed to the warmth of the islands their people came from. They are also ‘out in the cold’ as artists from a minority within a minority, by not adhering to the stereotype of a ‘Pacific artist’.”

The exhibition features work by 29 artists covering a range of media, including photography, moving image, performance art and painting.

Much of the work explores the personal experiences of the artists as New Zealand-born islanders. For example, Darcell Apelu’s video performance, Reaction to Insults, is a close-up of the artist’s face, showing the barely perceptible twitches as she re-enacts being subjected to stereotyping, ignorance and racial insults, while remaining silent to keep peace and not make others feel uncomfortable.

To mark the opening of the exhibition, an all-day public event is being held on Saturday 26 August featuring live performances by a number of the artists, and a talanoa (discussion) session about the artworks.

The exhibition is complemented by a full-colour catalogue featuring essays, explanations of the works and artist biographies, and it is available at Waikato Museum.

The Cold Islanders: Art on the Pacific Spectrum runs from August 26 to 3 December 2017. Waikato Museum is open daily from 10am-5pm and entry is free.



Dan Silverton
Waikato Museum Partnerships and Communications Manager
07 838 6956
021 056 9810