Rachael Rakena
Rachael Rakena is a Maori artist and video artist who works, frequently in collaboration with others, to create richly-layered performative installations, dvds and digital stills.

Of Maori and European/Pakeha descent (Ngai Tahu, Nga Puhi) Rachael has a Master of Fine Arts (Distinction) and is a lecturer at Massey University, School of Maori Visual Arts. She has exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, France, Britain and the United States. In 2007, Aniwaniwa a collaborative project with Brett Graham was included in the collateral events section of the 2007 Venice Biennale. In 2006, she and Graham represented New Zealand at the Sydney Biennale with the collaborative installation UFOB. Other major international exhibitions of recent years have included Pasifika Styles at Cambridge University in the UK, and in Dateline: Contemporary Art from the Pacific at Neuer Berliner Kunstverien.

In work that is both ethereal and political she employs a new language and new tools derived from digital media and video to invoke a contemporary Maori identity that is timeless and fluid. She is a highly innovative artist who explores the application of contemporary technology to articulate timeless notions of Maori culture and identity that flow from the past, through the present and into the future.

Rachael has coined the term 'Toi Rerehiko; as a means of describing and locating her practice. The word rerehiko plays on rorohiko the Maori word for computer, which translated literally means electric brain. Toi Rerehiko is a moving image art form immersed in Maori tradition, tikanga (custom) and values which uses digital and electronic media. Its principles, Rachael says, encompass concepts of continuum, immersion, movement and space.

Water is a prominent feature of Rakena's work and it is claimed as a tribal, Ngai Tahu, space - destabilising, she says, assumptions that Maori identity is exclusively land-based. It also operates metaphorically, providing a kind of amniotic fluid for the protection of culture.

Water is the medium in which floating text, performers, dancers operate, move and swim deliberately and consciously towards an unknown destiny or shore - much as migrants have always moved. Texts are claimed from whanau (family) emails using predominantly Maori words to become both visual signifiers of things Maori in cyberspace and to acknowledge how this electronic communication can continue to produce and support a collective culture and identity.


(Pacific Washup And UFOB)

Rachael Rakena first produced the video work 'Pacific Washup' during a residency at Sydney's Performance Space where she worked with Samoan artists Fez Fa'anana and Brian Fuata. It was further developed to provide the moving image component of the acclaimed installation (UFOB) which she developed in a collaboration with Brett Graham. UFOB, which is currently showing at Te Tuhi in Auckland, was first exhibited at the Sydney Biennale in 2006 and then shown at City Gallery Wellington in early 2007.

Pacific Washup and UFOB explore issues around migration. In strange and surreal scenes we see brown bodies, curiously wrapped in the cheap plastic carry-bags often used by travelers or tourists, washing up and arriving on Sydney's Bondi beach.

"The scenario here is comical, a Pythonesque allegory of migrant 'arrival' stories or a sci-fi parody about encountering the 'other' with its rampant metaphorisation of the alien and the stranger: giants, gods, cannibals, spirits, savages... SPICs, WOPs and FOBs.
But if the work is about projecting the 'other', it is also about imagining the 'self' in the Pacific 'contact zone'. The bags, we might recognize, are the kind typically used by Polynesians as luggage in their frequent air-crossings of the Pacific Ocean--part of the modern business of keeping up connections and relationships in the diaspora of the last few decades. Like cyberspace and digital media--like the Ocean itself once upon a time--the bags are a medium and symbol for this dispersed, expanded and mobile idea of contemporary Pacific identities."
Peter Brunt, Zones of Contact: 2006 Biennale of Sydney, p.122


Individual pieces from the UFOB installation are available.

Digital stills from the Pacific Washup series are also available, All images are unique prints, 450 x 600 mm

Ioio matua 1
2003
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
Ioio matua 1
2003
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
Rerehiko 8
2003
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
Rerehiko 8
2003
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
Pacific Washup 002
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 002
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 003
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 003
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 004
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 004
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 005
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 005
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 006
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 006
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 007
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific Washup 007
2006
Rachael Rakena
Digital still unique print
450 x 600 mm
Pacific flower 1
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 1
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 2
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 2
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 3
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 3
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 5
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
Pacific flower 5
2008
Rachael Rakena
Digital still mounted on dibond
1200 x1000mm
One man is an island
2009
Rachael Rakena
High definition video
6 minutes 40 seconds
One man is an island
2009
Rachael Rakena
High definition video
6 minutes 40 seconds
Ka u te kai a te po
2009
Rachael Rakena
High definition video
15 minutes 30 seconds
Ka u te kai a te po
2009
Rachael Rakena
High definition video
15 minutes 30 seconds
Kaore te aroha... (endless is the love...)
2009
Rachael Rakena
High definition video
7 minutes 50 seconds
Kaore te aroha... (endless is the love...)
2009
Rachael Rakena
High definition video
7 minutes 50 seconds
Poutereraki
2011
Rachael Rakena
high definition video in monitor with blots
3 minutes 17 seconds
Poutereraki
2011
Rachael Rakena
high definition video in monitor with blots
3 minutes 17 seconds
So many men under the bridge 1
2011
Rachael Rakena
high definition video in monitor with blots
8 minutes
So many men under the bridge 1
2011
Rachael Rakena
high definition video in monitor with blots
8 minutes
So many men under the bridge 2
2011
Rachael Rakena
high definition video in monitor with blots
7 minutes 30 seconds
So many men under the bridge 2
2011
Rachael Rakena
high definition video in monitor with blots
7 minutes 30 seconds