Johnson Witehira has put the fun back in NZ history by creating a 2D projected video artwork that is influenced by his own identity.
Witehira says, "Nearly all of my mahi is a conversation about being half-caste so that’s why I did produce these two art works one being Māori and one being Pākeha and up until now my art works have always been about resolving that identity."
The 2D artwork forces the characters to overcome challenges. The Māori character hunts animals in order to survive. The missionary tames the Māori by striking them with a holy bible. Its content he says is not intended to offend.
He says, "When we arrived all those things are all history and I guess for some people if your offended maybe you just don’t want to accept that they’re part of our history, Pākeha history, Māori history that aren’t that nice but we need to reflect on those things I think as well."
The idea may strike a chord with some people, but Witehira says Māori knowledge experts, curators and artists from various platforms were consulted about the idea.
"No one ever said that it's a terrible idea or why you’re doing it. I might still get a response like that and that's fine, that's art. If people respond to it like that it's kei te pai."
Witehira is unsure of the message he's hoping to achieve, but he is allowing his work to speak for itself.
"One of the main reasons I use video games in this mahi is that it connects an audience with people who I think are interested in art so video games opens up this audience, not just Māori but Pākeha as well to come and connect with art in a different way."
Half Blood will premiere tonight at the Objectspace Gallery in Ponsonby, Auckland, and will be taken to Gisborne during the summer.