A beautiful hesitation
Monday 3 April 2017 Share FacebookDelicious Email

In 2001, Fiona Pardington began a body of work examining collections of cultural objects in New Zealand’s museums. Through the process of studying, selecting, assembling and then photographing – shells, birds and hei tiki (personal ornaments) – Pardington engages with the complex interplay of culture, science and history, while also questioning the ethics of museum acquisition, classification and display.

Fiona Pardington’s Portrait of a life cast of Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville (from 'Ahua: A beautiful hesitation' series) 2010, Portrait of a life cast of Pitani, Solomon Islands (from 'Ahua: A beautiful hesitation' series) 2010 and Portrait of a life cast of Matua Tawai, Aotearoa/New Zealand (from 'Ahua: A beautiful hesitation' series) 2010 hung alongside Shaobin Yang’s X-Blind Spot No.1 2008 and X-Blind Spot No.4 2008 installed at GOMA. Fiona Pardington’s Portrait of a life cast of Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d’Urville (from ‘Ahua: A beautiful hesitation’ series) 2010, Portrait of a life cast of Pitani, Solomon Islands (from ‘Ahua: A beautiful hesitation’ series) 2010 and Portrait of a life cast of Matua Tawai, Aotearoa/New Zealand (from ‘Ahua: A beautiful hesitation’ series) 2010 alongside Shaobin Yang’s X-Blind Spot No.1 2008 and X-Blind Spot No.4 2008 installed at GOMA / Photograph: Natasha Harth QAGOMA

In the ‘Ahua: A beautiful hesitation’ series, Pardington photographs the life casts made by nineteenth century Frenchman Pierre-Marie Alexandre Dumoutier, moulded from the features of Indigenous people of the Pacific region. These casts were linked to the nineteenth century discourse of phrenology, a now discredited belief that intellect and personality could be read from the features of the skull. Under the systems of this pseudo-science, many non-European people were framed as inferior due to their facial and cranial differences. Through photography, Pardington revisits these casts and the ideology that motivated their creation. By photographing the casts she attempts to overlay a new and dignifying narrative to their original subjects.

Fiona Pardington, New Zealand  b.1961 / Portrait of a life cast of Matua Tawai, Aotearoa/New Zealand (from 'Ahua: A beautiful hesitation' series) 2010 / Archival pigment inks on Hahnemühle 308gsm photo rag paper / Courtesy of the Musée de l'Homme (Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle), Paris, France, ed. 1/10 / Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist Fiona Pardington, New Zealand b.1961 / Portrait of a life cast of Matua Tawai, Aotearoa/New Zealand (from ‘Ahua: A beautiful hesitation’ series) 2010 / Archival pigment inks on Hahnemühle 308gsm photo rag paper / Courtesy of the Musée de l’Homme (Musee National d’Histoire Naturelle), Paris, France, ed. 1/10 / Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist
Fiona Pardington, New Zealand  b.1961 / Portrait of a life cast of Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville (from 'Ahua: A beautiful hesitation' series) 2010 / Archival pigment inks on Hahnemühle 308gsm photo rag paper / Courtesy of the Musée Flaubert d'Histoire de la Medecine, Rouen, France, ed. 1/10 / Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist Fiona Pardington, New Zealand b.1961 / Portrait of a life cast of Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d’Urville (from ‘Ahua: A beautiful hesitation’ series) 2010 / Archival pigment inks on Hahnemühle 308gsm photo rag paper / Courtesy of the Musée Flaubert d’Histoire de la Medecine, Rouen, France, ed. 1/10 / Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

On view in ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ until Monday 17 April 2017.

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