Artist hopes political artwork will provoke action

By shauni.james@dailypost.co.nz

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EXHIBITION: Michael Staite's exhibition The Art of Protest is now on at The Arts Village. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
EXHIBITION: Michael Staite's exhibition The Art of Protest is now on at The Arts Village. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

Rotorua artist Michael Staite describes his new exhibition The Art of Protest as a call to action on multiple issues.

Mr Staite said the exhibition, which had its official opening at The Arts Village last night, featured 21 pieces of political art-artistic activism.

He said it covered the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Te Ture Whenua Maori Reform Bill, Public Works Act and the recently cancelled Rotorua Eastern Arterial, all of which he opposed.

"When the government of the day continues to ignore the people, the people can get creative through multiple mediums such as music, dance, word and visual," Mr Staite said.

The exhibition featured some works from 2013 as well as new ones which took him about a month to prepare, he said.

"Untruth motivates me to create and even though art is open to interpretation, it teaches us to think outside the box and to question everything instead of believing everything we see and read."

He said he wanted the community to be empowered by his show, to know that any individual had the power to make change and that when a community stood together on issues it stood strong.

Mr Staite said musicians would perform protest pieces and a visual display of footage from the TPP protest march in Auckland and the Greenpeace Real Climate Action protest.

"Effectively my exhibition is a call to action.

"Art is a form of protest within itself and I'm encouraging individuals to actively engage with their creative side, to express themselves freely on issues they deem important."

He said he only got seriously involved in art about three years ago, when it meant standing up for his whenua by engaging in direct action to stop the Rotorua Eastern Arterial from going over the top of his land.

"Ever since then my art has taken me on a spiritual journey which has led me to The Art of Protest through activism work."

He told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday he shed a tear on hearing the Eastern Arterial has been scrapped and the designation over the land would be lifted.

Stephen Arthur's exhibition Artscapes also opened last night at the Arts Village. Both exhibitions are on show until April 30.

-The Arts Village is open 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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