Rachael Rakena

Rakena coined the term ‘Toi Rerehiko’ to centre, claim and name digital space within a Māori paradigm. She describes and locates Māori digital/video/electronic-based art practice in terms of continuum, motion, and collaboration. Water is a prominent feature of her work and it is claimed as an indigenous space. Critiquing notions of fluid identity, Pacific understandings of space and water through metaphors of digital space as water space, inhabited by iwi Māori, her art installations have evolved to enculturate and politicize water itself, navigating issues of ongoing Pacific diaspora, flooding and rising sea levels, and decolonization/(re)vitalization. Rakena has used water as an amniotic medium to play out ideas of ‘otherness’, alienation, cultural loss, colonisation, immersion, and narratives of creation, desire, consumption, belonging, connectedness and ownership.

Known for her collaborative practice, she has been exhibiting internationally for 20 years. Highlights include Aniwaniwa, the 52nd Venice Biennale; Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Canada; Haka Peepshow, The Octagon, Dunedin; Māori Moving Image, Dowse Museum, Lower Hutt, NZ; Te Puna o Waiwhetu Christchurch City Gallery.

Rakena is a mum of one, a founding member of Paemanu, a collective of Ngāi Tahu contemporary artists, and an Associate Professor at Massey University Whiti o Rehua School of Art in Wellington. She co-conceived/co-curates Mana Moana, a waterscreen/online platform bringing together leading interdisciplinary Māori and Pacific artists to collaborate, exploring relationships with and across the ocean, climate change, and technology through indigenous perspectives, knowledge and narratives.

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