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Exhibited in Turning a page, starting a chapter Gus Fisher, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland curated by Lisa Beauchamp
(group show)

Ana Iti’s new installation brings together the video and sculptural strands of her practice for the first time and is informed by a concurrent project where she is developing her own artist’s book.

Roharoha means to stretch, flutter wings or flap in te reo Māori. In the context of Iti’s artwork, Roharoha refers to the movements of the kahukura, a red admiral butterfly native to Aotearoa which as a caterpillar cloaks itself in the poisonous ongaonga nettle. Kahukura translates as ‘red cloak’ in reference to its bright red banding across its wings. Ongaonga is the primary host for the red admiral larvae and throughout their life the kahukura use the nettle as a form of protection by cloaking themselves in its leaf during the day.

The installation itself mimics the shape of an open book, and projected video on each side is akin to its pages. Iti’s video is conceptually informed by the transformation of the kahukura from a caterpillar, with a flashing of block colours bookending different stages of its evolution. This is followed by a close-up of the artist performing a hand-binding technique sometimes used for small publications with the act of binding pages a metaphor for a butterfly’s cocoon. The video ends with the closing of the book—a period of rest for the kahukura and a chance to retreat under the protective layer of the ongaonga nettle.

For Iti, the kahukura’s flight is a way to think about making and the creative process. Characterised by periods of continual gliding, rest and frenzied fluttering, the butterfly is iterative and makes multiple generations in a year. By using the kahukura’s flight as a guide, Roharoha reflects on how creative ideas develop and take shape, from the first flickering of an idea through to stages of making and the creation of a final form. 

- Lisa Beauchamp, Curator of Contemporary Art Kaimatapopore Toi Hou, Gus Fisher Gallery
Dual-channel HD video, colour, sound.
Photography by Sam Hartnett