Keywords: collaboration, collective practice, indigenous knowledge
Artists and cultural organisers have periodically developed new collaborative initiatives to take a more active role in determining the agenda and context for their work. This has often been in response to institutional and critical environments which fail to support interdisciplinary aesthetic and political agendas for creative practice.
For Guillermo Gómez-Peña, the performance collective La Pocha Nostra is conceived as a ‘virtual maquiladora (assembly plant)’, which ‘creates regenerative sources of labour from concentric and overlapping circles’ in a state of permanent reinvention and a desire for radical inclusivity. Raqs Media Collective have foregrounded the possibilities of new media to support new forms of collectivity. They ask: what kinds of documentation strategies are required to enable the sharing of experience and conceptual development in the move from individual artist to collective? The work of these groups have sensitised us to the critical issues such collaborations face, and raised questions about the opportunities they/we have to sustain and develop practice under conditions of globalisation.
As a collective, Local Time is researching the conditions of their own development as a collective engaged in interdisciplinary, intercultural practices in a postcolonial context. This paper is a report on our participation in the SCANZ residency in Taranaki, New Zealand, Jan-Feb 2009. We begin with an overview of the critical issues and inspirations for our work as image makers and writers in the new media environment, then discuss our understanding of the unique dynamics of Aotearoa New Zealand as a post-conflict society which is renowned for its unique modality of negotiation between indigenous and colonial cultures.
Significantly, the residency allowed us to develop our relationship with Parihaka, a village where a significant invasion by colonial forces occurred in the late 1800s, and a famous non-violent resistance movement led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi that has since provided inspiration for many significant New Zealand artists. Parihaka is a key site in the politics of recognition of indigenous culture, which has occurred in New Zealand over the past few decades, and is now the home to an annual peace festival.
We have been visiting Parihaka over a number of years as a site of learning and a means of contributing to a visual and textual discourse on sovereignty and cultural self-determination. As Te Miringa Hohaia, kaumatua at Parihaka notes, ‘indigenous languages that grow from the biodiversity and ecosystems are filled with histories, song, poetry and metaphor.’ The tension between indigenous and colonial knowledge systems in this location provides a valuable frame to consider the limits and opportunities of collaboration. This frame guided our key research question on the dynamics of collective practice, which we have pursued through interviews with the other residency participants, including a number of established international new media artists, curators, and theorists.
In this presentation the two members of the collective – who work primarily as media artists – will present both oral and audio-visual accounts of the research and seek to engage local audience in dialogue around the symposium themes of citizenship and contested spaces, local and global transactions and post-conflict societies.
- Alex Monteith, Danny Butt & Jon Bywater, University of Auckland, New Zealand
- Natalie Robertson, AUT University, New Zealand