Thursday, December 17, 2009

art and culture

Royal Moko Barry Ross Smith - Go here.
I haven't asked permission to use the image of the painting but i'm hopeful that because I have linked to the site where you can buy it that barry will be okay with it.
This painting has caused upset. My view is that moko should not be used in this way but i am torn because I believe in art and the right of artists to push the boundaries. But the line comes in when appropriated cultural items, that have meaning, are used.

From Stuff
"A portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with a traditional Maori tattoo has raised the ire of Palmerston North residents who believe the image is insulting to both Maori and the Queen.
The print, at the Downtown Art & Framing store, features a young Queen Elizabeth with a moko on her chin and lips.
The date of the Treaty of Waitangi signing appears in Roman numerals next to the monarch.
What does all that mean from the artists point of view?
"Paeroa artist Barry Ross Smith, who created the artwork last year, said it was not intended as an attack on anyone.
"It was a way to show as a country that we have self determination from England.
"We actually built an entirely new race by signing the treaty, so the Queen of that new race would need a moko."
Mr Smith also did a self portrait in which he has a full facial moko – a statement about the merger of two equal cultures.
Hmmmm not sure about all that. So why are people upset?
"Palmerston North Maori warden Nola Te Papa, of Tuhoe, said she was shocked when she first walked past the print on Tuesday.
"Those are only worn in Tuhoe by people in the chief's bloodline," she said.
"These artists are getting too carried away with the Maori moko, that's abusive. They are just printing it anywhere."
The print was a breach of tikanga (Maori custom), which could result in bad luck for family members of the Queen and the artist, Miss Te Papa said.
"Bev Blackwell said it was an insult to Maori culture and the Queen.
"I think it's disgusting and offensive. It should be destroyed and taken away."
Are artists allowed to just do what they want? We know society puts barriers in place via laws regarding decency and so on but is it okay for an artist to use a cultural item that causes insult to the people that cultural item has meaning for. Obviously the technique is used deliberately for effect by some artists but in this instance where the artist says they didn't intend to insult the people that were insulted - what then? Say sorry? Say too bad? Say - that's art. It is a tough one but the lines are always there it is really a question of where they are drawn.


Antony Ellis said...

Thanks for the acknowledgement when using Barry's image of the Queen with Moko for this post.

Ana said...

As a Maori women who wears a moko kauae, I find this painting disgusting & offensive, to put something sacred & important to Maori women on the white bitch who symbolises the genocide & colonisation of Aotearoa. Being an 'artist' is no excuse for shitting all over Maori women.....where is the lighter fluid

feddabonn said...

a while ago, there was a bit of a furore in india about painter mf hussain painting a hindu goddess in the nude. i also think of the infamous danish cartoons of prophet muhammad.

my reaction to all of these is this: an artist has the right to portray anything in any way they wish. having said that, the community also has the right to react to that, as long as this does not involve violence to the *person of the artist.

so i stand by barry ross smith's right to this painting, as well as ana's right to have a go at it with a lighter.