Wellington-based artist Murray Hewitt’s video works offer humorous and pointed contemplations of contemporary New Zealand society – from suburban sprawl to consumer culture and points of cultural conflict.
For this exhibition, Hewitt enters Te Urewera National Park, drawing out the multiple cultural histories and political narratives that overlay this sacred place, and the acts of injustice, resistance and protest that continue to occur there. Hewitt follows another artist into this contested terrain: Colin McCahon’s paintings in and of this site were based on a forged identification with the land, its people, its spiritual dimensions and political histories – all elements that are questioned and complicated through Hewitt’s blend of activism and absurdism.
Hewitt’s extended stationary camera shots, image reversals, and reworking of symbols of power and protest encourage the viewer to look and think again, in this case to confront the complex histories and mythologies of this place and our relationship to it.
Recessional, a related earlier video, accompanies this exhibition. Screening on the Square2 monitors at the entrance of City Gallery Wellington, the video offers a slow accumulation of footage of sixty-one sites of battle between Māori and the Crown.