How can you define your cultural identity when so many of us are now a real fusion of many different cultures? Even though I identify myself as a New Zealander, I also recognise a connection to my English, Scottish and Irish heritage as well as now having a strong Pacific connection. A Social Report issued by the Ministry of Social Development states ” Cultural Identity is an important contributor to people’s wellbeing.” as well as ..” New Zealand -ness may vary from person to person. A strong national culture or identity, and strength in artistic endeavours, can be a source of ecnomic strength and higher material standards of living.” http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/2003/cultural-identity/cultural-identity.shtml
So which ethnic group should I identify myself with ? Well actually I don’t have to. One of the best things about being a New Zealander, or kiwi, is that I have a sense of belonging to New Zealand, but it is OK to identify with more than one culture and that those connections may even change, become more, or less ,important to me over the course of my life. That it is one of the things that I feel defines me as a New Zealander in a multi-cultural society and makes me unique.
And what made me start thinking about these identity issues and how I felt about it ? Art, of course.
This work was created by Artist and Curator Ema Tavola , started in 2005 in Auckland and finished in 2008 in Suva, Fiji.
The following work is a response to what I see as the cultural influences in my life and what I identify with.
It was also interesting to note that the importance Cultural Identity plays in Traditional or Indigineous Art. Globalisation is both good and bad, giving on one hand the freedom to explore contemporary styles and techniques with a traditional flavour, as illustrated by the Red Wave Exhibition of a Collective of Artist from around the Oceania region… http://www.octobergallery.co.uk/exhibitions/2006red/index.shtml
Epeli Hau’ofa explains ‘We are not interested in imitating (western art) and asking our artists to perform dances for tourists. It is time to create things for ourselves, to create established standards of excellence which match those of our ancestors…The development of new art forms that are truly Oceania, transcendent of our national and cultural diversity, is very important in that it allows our creative minds to draw on far larger pools of cultural traits than those of our indiviual national lagoons. It makes us less insular without being buried in the amorphousness of the global melting pot.” (Epeli Hau’ofa. James Harvey Gallery, Sydney. September 2000)
But perhaps the bad is the dilution of the traditional styles and the loss of some unique skills, although there are many artists that aim to ensure these skills shouldn’t be lost altogether.
The following except is from anIranian online Art magazine ‘Tavoos’ , http://www.tavoosonline.com/Main/IndexEn.aspx
“The West knows only too well that what it means by “global art” is not an art which has its roots in various cultures, but rather, one that has been formed through the arts and artists of the world, embracing it completely. It also knows that “global art” means taking advantage of the talents of other countries and imposing changes on the styles and tastes of others. Finally, the West understands that “global art” is an art which must take shape within a cultural domain and is one of the methods of cultural colonization.”http://www.tavoosonline.com/Articles/ArticleDetailEn.aspx?src=89&Page=1
If these are a taster of the work coming as the result of Iranian Global Art, then it can’t be all bad surely…