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P7: LAYNE WAEREA

Free Dust 2019

Nominated by artist Louisa Afoa. Presented with support from Creative New Zealand.

Free Dust by Layne Waerea (Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Kahungunu) explores different notions of value and exchange. Her Free Arguments, first performed in Cuba Mall as part of Hybrid Spring at Enjoy Public Art Gallery in Whanganui-a-Tara, sees Waerea engage in thorny conversations with strangers at the Art Fair, testing the possibilities of confrontation at a time when many are wringing their hands at the rifts that have opened up between people of different political stripes. Among the topics that Waerea will discuss is the privatisation of natural resources, a subject that carries over into her installation in the Fair café.

Blue Pacific Takeaways imitates the kind of sign one might encounter in a fish-and-chip shop, listing a series of resources for purchase: water, air, and fog. The first two are already being sold. Water is bottled at the named locations, while air from Te Tiritiri-o-te-moana (‘the Southern Alps’) has been canned by Christchurch-based company Breathe EZY for export to China. Fog—which Waerea notes is ‘a winning combo’—is yet to be exploited directly (for now, it’s only good for dressing a picturesque landscape). The titular video, showing dust billows produced by an illicit lunchtime act, offers up another resource that might be monetised, as well as an opportunity to consider how tangata whenua and Te Tiriti o Waitangi might help us manage the resources of Aotearoa for the benefit of all.

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Layne Waerea is based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her practice centres on installations and performance art interventions that challenge and play with social and legal ambiguities in the public sphere. Recent exhibitions include: Hybrid Spring (with Deborah Rundle), Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, 2018; and Two Oceans at Once, ST PAUL St Gallery, Auckland, current.

Image: Layne Waerea, Free Dust (video still), 2019. Courtesy of the artist.