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New Zealand’s Venice Biennale participants announced

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The Venice Biennale has announced the artists participating in this year’s international exhibition, Stranieri Ovunque, Foreigners Everywhere. 

Eight New Zealand artists have been invited to participate by curator Adriano Pedrosa. 

Sandy Adsett (Ngāti Pahauwera), Brett Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui); Fred Graham (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Tainui); art collective Mataaho comprising four wāhine Māori: Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson, Bridget Reweti, Terri Te Tau; and and Selwyn Te Ngareatua Wilson (Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Hine) will be presenting work at the 60th international exhibition at the Venice Biennale. 

Adriano Pedrosa selected the artists during a visit to New Zealand in March 2023. Amanda Hereaka, Creative New Zealand’s Co-Manager Practice and Pathways says his time in New Zealand was invaluable for our artists. 

“It was an incredible opportunity having Adriano Pedrosa here. Within a tight timeframe he saw a wide variety of both contemporary and historic works; we visited exhibitions in different centres and ensured he saw as much work as possible. Adriano has a connection to New Zealand art and artists through his work last year with Nigel Borrell and Indigenous Histories at MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo), so he’s familiar with our ways of making, but after seeing New Zealand artists’ work first-hand, he’s selected eight to represent us in Venice.” 

Sandy Adsett, whose work is currently part of the Indigenous Histories exhibition at MASP, says he’s committed to Ngā toi Māori. 

“I’ve lived my life with Māori art. Our culture has been challenged, questioned and ignored. Being colonised we lost much. I made a commitment years ago to be tūturu and enjoy the art I respect and belong to,” says Adsett. 

The Mataaho collective say it’s an honour to have its work shown at Venice. 

“As a collective of four Māori women we feel honoured to be invited to exhibit in the Venice Biennale, alongside the other artists from Aotearoa. We’re looking forward to meeting and engaging with artists and artworks from all over the world.” 

Mataaho and Brett Graham will be attending Venice and will travel to Italy in March to install their works. 

Caren Rangi, Chair of the Arts Council, Toi Aotearoa, says the recognition of our artists comes after successive New Zealand presentations at the Venice Biennale since 2001. 

“This is so exciting that for the first time New Zealand has so many artists exhibiting in the international exhibition – it’s a reflection of the ideas they are testing and the esteem that their work is held in. To have eight Ngā toi Māori artists invited and representing Aotearoa New Zealand at the 60th Venice Biennale will raise their profiles internationally and New Zealand’s at the most vibrant art event in the world.” 

Creative New Zealand is the principal funder for the New Zealand artists attending the Venice Biennale’s international exhibition, Stranieri Ovunque, Foreigners Everywhere. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa have supported New Zealand’s presentation at the Venice Biennale. The project is also significantly supported by the New Zealand at Venice Patrons, whose financial support ensures New Zealand art and artists are represented at La Biennale di Venezia.

The international exhibition takes place within the Arsenale, formerly a large industrial complex that, since the 1980s, has hosted extensive international architecture and art exhibitions.  

The Venice Biennale opens on 17 April and runs through till 24 November 2024. 

Details of the New Zealand artworks that will be shown are still under wraps and will be announced in April.

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