Monday, March 14, 2011

Heavy metal

Europe has sent a fair bit of bronze sculpture to us over the years. Most of it stands on plinths in our public places, figures of men (are there any bronze statues of women in New Zealand?) staring boldly into the middle distance. Our representative to the 2011 Venice Biennale is reversing the trend and sending a couple of large scale bronze sculptures as well as a carved piano right back at them. These Michael Parekowhai sculptures have their origins in Henderson, a light industrial suburb in West Auckland.

This is where the sculptures were seen for the first time over the last few days, and it is also where Parekowhai has his studio. Giving On first looking into Chapman’s Homer its first airing in Henderson was a generous gesture by Parekowhai; on previous occasions works destined for Venice have been shown here only after they have played the Italian gig.

The installation was laid out to reflect as far as possible the way it will be seen in Venice. A Henderson side street stood in for the Grand Canal and the carved piano was guarded at each entrance by the two bronze bulls on their piano plinths.

Over the weekend the sound of the carved piano being played indoors, was often accompanied by locals burning rubber up and down the road outside. The same locals also stopped at the fence to stare and take pics on their mobile phones shooting them off to friends with ‘OMG just cn this bull ona pno so gr8’.
Images: From Michael Parekowhai’s installation On first looking into Chapman’s Homer as seen in Henderson, West Auckland. Click on images to enlarge.