Tāme Iti and the Art of Thriller

Allison Maw is a senior journalist at Stuff.

Opinion: Journalists can generally talk for a minute or so on almost any topic, unless they have spent years covering a specialized area of ​​journalistic reporting. This is a joke that I often use to justify my lack of in-depth knowledge on various topics (sailing! grassland management! global economic theory!)

I wish I knew more about art. To borrow from the old saying, I know what moves me, but often I don’t know why. I know the art of Tāme Iti moves me deeply, and I’m not alone there; Named Art Prize It is a testament to that. It is inevitable that the art of Tāme is associated with the Maori experience, which is why I found Replies to his correction of the plaque at the Wellington Hotel This week is wonderful.

Tāme Iti has been awarded the Burr/Tatham Trust at the Art Foundation 2022, Tu Tumu Toi Laureate Awards.

Abigail Dougherty/Staff

Tāme Iti has been awarded the Burr/Tatham Trust at the Art Foundation 2022, Tu Tumu Toi Laureate Awards.

For those who haven’t watched it, the video of Etty crossing out his misspelled name on a Dean Proudfoot plaque at the QT Hotel is well worth a watch. Wearing a T-shirt with “I’ll Speak Maori,” he carefully crosses out the name “Tama,” drawing Tam above.

In the video, Etty explains that it’s not hard to get his name right. The video was captioned “Every week is Maori Language Week” and set on the Dr Dre/Snoop Dog track, which is a work of art in itself.

Read more:
* Artistic dynasties of contemporary Maori art appear at the Auckland Historical Gallery
* Tāhunanui acquires its meaning in te reo
* Signs of terrorist attacks in Christchurch for some time, says Tami Etty
* Komato is disgusted with the gallery’s efforts to show colonial painting, citing racism
* Tame Iti represents Tuhoe’s “end of the era” with exhibition

Broadfoot’s response has set an example in crisis management. A full apology and support for Iti’s actions. Closed questions like, why didn’t he check the name and actions of the person whose picture he was painting? The piece is literally talking about Tam – it is Tam. He borrows his activism for its content—part of a series, says Proudfoot, that celebrates Aotearoa’s unique personalities.

Tāme Iti corrects his name on a painting by Dean Proudfoot in Wellington.


Tāme Iti corrects his name on a painting by Dean Proudfoot in Wellington.

However, he says the patch lifted the piece, which of course happened, and it’s now very popular because of it.

The owner of the painting responded less enthusiastically. Chris Barkin, the art collector and philanthropist, who also owns the hotel, called it a slander and “not unlike graffiti,” saying Etty should be prosecuted.

In some ways, this was the perfect colonial response. It’s also puzzling to the “art collector” – a vulgar and indifferent reaction. For him, perhaps, it is just something he owns, inside something else he owns (the hotel), and he cannot fathom how it can develop and live with a greater context and meaning. It misses the point completely. And now we have the weird situation where the original artist is cheerful (and punished) and the owner is angry.

Etty has always been fighting attacks on his name, both literally and figuratively. Besides calling him a terrorist, he was also Unjustly accused of being an art thief.

Etty preferred to keep his own advisor this week, but several people, including members from Wanao, helped me understand the context surrounding the patch. They told me it had been a problem for so long – so much so that after the Urewera raid court case, they created the hashtag #TameNotTama and corrected individuals, media and organizations. Social media has become an important tool for Wannau to control those race-based expectations and open up a conversation.

The Iti act happened this week for a number of reasons. Ideological, situational and practical. For many years, Pākeha’s projection of Iti from Proudfoot was given Mana as he hung in a rich man’s hotel in Pākeha. There are a lot of colonial parallels. The family had recently stayed at the hotel and had to go over the board over and over – they were basically paying to get past the error and accept it.

Tami Etty I won't speak Maori on Wellington's waterfront.

Trinity Thompson Brown / Introduction

Tami Etty I won’t speak Maori on Wellington’s waterfront.

They are back in Wellington this month to present Iti “I Won’t Speak Maori” exhibition.

The viral social media content that followed allowed people to participate in a “soft” form of activism against this racist statement and highlighted the lengths Etty and his friends in Naga Tama Toa had to go to make a positive difference for Māori.

They gave interviews to the media for two months, constantly correcting the name Iti. The timing was perfect. (By the way, those who might ask if this was a publicity stunt should know that the installation was pretty much packed by then.)

Iti patch was on the brand – he has a long track record of creating performance art. Now Etty and his family and supporters are all left with a number of questions.

Did this patch add value to the board? Who benefits from it? Why is it important to say Auckland and Wellington correctly but not Tamaki Makaurau or Te Wanganui a Tara? What would happen if we substituted one letter for another on the Prime Minister’s name, and ran into it without explanation and without apology?

The best result of Iti’s act may be a reconciliation that allows the painting to be hung, and corrected, as a reminder of the cultural shift, and the beauty of Iti’s business.

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