Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Te Papa’s New Zealand at Venice Biennale

Lisa Reihana, Biennale Arte 2017. Photograph by Michael Hall. New Zealand at Venice.

Miri Young, New Zealand at the Venice Biennale: Our most ambitious learning resource yet, Te Papa Blog, 19 February 2018

Head of Learning Innovation Miri Young introduces a digital learning resource for teachers which bridges the gap between New Zealand and Venice, and brings the digital artwork Lisa Reihana: Emissaries into classrooms.

What is the Venice Biennale?
Some people refer to the Venice Biennale or La Biennale di Venezia as an ‘Art Olympics’. Countries from all around the world fund one of their very best contemporary artists to exhibit their work in front of a global art audience.

Why we wanted to bring the Biennale into New Zealand’s classrooms
New Zealand’s 2017 featured artist, Lisa Reihana and her show-stopping exhibition Lisa Reihana: Emissaries, presents a powerful learning opportunity for New Zealand students.

Reihana’s digital artwork In Pursuit of Venus [infected] was exhibited at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2015.

It’s a large format (23.5m long x 3.35 m high), panoramic video work in which Reihana has re-imagined Captain James Cook’s voyages to the South Pacific.

Reihana and her creative team have brought interactions between Cook, his crew, and indigenous people to life through performance and soundscapes, in collaboration with the many indigenous cultures represented from across the Pacific.

I found viewing Emissaries in Venice totally captivating, and seeing the number of international visitors of different ages engaged with the exhibition reinforced for me that Reihana’s artwork is a gift to us as educators: this beautiful and technically brilliant artwork raises important discussion around themes of representation and difference, time and change, and changing perspectives on New Zealand and the Pacific, as well as giving students a window into New Zealand art on the world stage.

The education team at Te Papa are dedicated to learning through visual arts, and inspired by the poignant themes in Reihana’s exhibition, New Zealand at the Venice Biennale: Digital Learning Resource has become our most ambitious resource yet.

The New Zealand at Venice Biennale: Digital Learning Resource
Reihana’s work is particularly relevant to a number of learning areas in the curriculum and she is already an NCEA model artist. For these reasons we designed the learning resource for Visual Arts and Social Science learning for years 7-13, although of course adapt it to your students’ needs at any level.

Rich with imagery and an interactive timeline, we’ve also created video interviews with Reihana, various curators and the team working on the New Zealand pavilion especially for you and your students to bring the experience of exhibiting in Venice to life.

Reihana is a leader in time-based art and a significant role model for young artists, and she shares our passion for engaging young people through and with art. We’ve created a range of individual and collaborative learning activities, and opportunities for students’ creative response to encourage your students to get hands-on.

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