Ki Mua, Ki Muri & Artists in Antarctica reviewed for Landfall


David Eggleton reviews Ki Mua, Ki Muri: 25 years of Toioho ki Āpiti edited by Cassandra Barnett and Kura Te Waru-Rewiri and Artists in Antarctica edited by Patrick Shepherd:

'We carry the genes and culture of our ancestors, and what we think about them shapes what we think of ourselves and how we make sense of our time and place. Two new illustrated books from Massey University Press consider ancestral mythologies of time and place, one in the form of the Māori Imaginary and the other in the form of the Antarctic Imaginary. Of course both of these cultural formations are also lived realities, but these books show how artists respond to them as aesthetic concepts.

In Ki Mua, Ki Muri: 25 years of Toioho ki Āpiti, twenty-one contributors present a variety of essays, conversations, interviews and artworks around the topic of what is contemporary Māori art, who might make it, and how it might be taught as a tertiary level academic subject in Aotearoa New Zealand. This is a big and complex subject, and this book, ably edited and collated by Cassandra Barnett and Kura Te Waru-Rewiri, focuses on the story of one Māori art school, Toiohi ki Āpiti, which was set up within the School of Māori Studies Te Pūtahi ā Toi at Massey University in Palmerston North in 1996 as the first indigenous four-year fine arts degree programme of its kind in the world.

Ki mua, ki muri literally means moving forward while looking back; the use of this phrase in the book’s title is intended to emphasise the progressive philosophy of Toiohi ki Āpiti: the way it has remained connected to tradition while also being innovative. The name of the art school translates as ‘the awakening of visual art at Āpiti’, the gorge of the Manawatū river. Māori art historian Ngāhuia Te Awekōtuku and Māori art contemporary art curator Nigel Borell—a graduate of the school—both provide introductory essays to set out the historical context.'

Read the full review here.