Land Wars is a major project held at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in 2008 over several platforms.
Who has control over land, and who doesn’t? What are the changing circumstances for land use? These are some of the most pressing questions of our time.
However, the battles over land in New Zealand today are fought largely through money and legislation, rather than the military battles of old. Presenting work by both international and local artists, the Land Wars exhibitions reveal the complex negotiations land is subject to, our anxieties and fears around its control, and various strategies of resistance.
The first stage of Land Wars is subtitled Shift; exploring movement across land, including displacement, migration, border control and sovereignty issues. Taking New Zealand’s particular contemporary situation as a starting point, the perspectives in the exhibition are both local and drawn from further afield.
Some of the works included in the exhibition operate as meditations or reflections, while other works arise out of direct political activism. New York artist Robert Ransick’s project Casa Segura documents his own practical response to the difficulties faced by illegal immigrants entering the US border, while London artist Heath Bunting offers an equally practical ‘how to’ guide on crossing European borders without showing passport or papers. The border struggle Wellington photographer Wayne Barrar documents is not that of restraining people, but rather of ‘bio security’; preventing unwanted plants and animals entering the country.
Tūhoe activist and filmmaker Chaz Doherty calls for the right to self-determination for his people, a topical and challenging issue intricately bound up with an idea of the land as far more than just a physical resource. Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri also explore the desire for sovereignty in their series of interviews with those displaced by the building of the controversial Israeli-West Bank barrier.
Land Wars: The Reader will be published in May 2008 to accompany the second exhibition in Land Wars: Build. Funding towards Land Wars was received from the Goethe-Institut, Embassy of the Federal Republic, Germany and PROGRAM, Berlin.